Red, a red panda, mourns how all the books for pandas somehow omit red pandas! With the encouragement of his giant panda friend Gee, Red writes his own book about red pandas. The adorable picture book How This Book Got Red by Margaret Chiu Greanias and pictures by Melissa Iwai (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, October 2023) narrates the journey of why and how Red’s illustrated story came to be, and then it shows the confidence-building reactions of others in the red panda community when they see themselves in the book!
With adorable watercolor and pencil illustration, How This Book Got Red delights the readers with the depictions of both red pandas and giant pandas. Red’s emotions rise and fall as his confidence in his illustrated story ebbs and flows. Readers can all relate to feeling nervous about creating something and putting it out in the world. When another red panda finds his book and reads it, the previously ignored red panda community shares their excitement and cheers for Red’s creativity and confidence.
To the discerning reader, the underlying analogy becomes evident: much like marginalized communities that have been historically absent from children’s literature, in this story red pandas have lacked representation in this fictionalized “panda” community. So, when a book appears that celebrates their uniqueness, that group wholeheartedly celebrates this long-awaited validation. Kids mostly likely won’t get the subtleties of this message, yet they will undoubtedly enjoy reading about red pandas along with their giant panda friends, for once!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.