“Whatever you dream of I believe you can be”
This book presents a magical portrait of Miu Lan, a child who can change into any shape they can imagine. Miu Lan changes their shape from day to day based on how they feel and no matter what shape they are their mother loves them exactly the same. But when Miu Lan goes to school for the first time, the other kids don’t know how to react to Miu Lan. They want them to fit inside of the boxes that they know about.
This magical story is about gender, identity, difference and acceptance. We spend most of the story time with Miu Lan as they are entering school for the first time. First we see Miu Lan at home with their mother, who gives them unconditional love and support, and spending time alone exploring and adventuring based on what feels authentic to them. Then we see Miu Lan at school where at first they are met with judgment and bullying and then are later met with curiosity and interest. Miu Lan has to cope with the distress that comes with judgment and decide how to continue to be themself in the face of other people’s responses.
Questions to ask young readers
Content that might be challenging
Miu Lan faces bullying and being left out in school that might bring up difficult questions or memories for kids who have experienced or witnessed that behavior. We see other students express judgment and confusion about Miu Lan’s authentic self-expression. Miu Lan is negatively impacted by these experiences and expresses sadness and worry.
When Miu Lan experiences difficulty at school she shares her experiences with her mom who is thoughtful and supportive but doesn’t have the ability to change what is going on at school. It can be hard for a little one to understand that their parents don’t have total control over the world around them. It might be a good idea to prepare for having a conversation about how to decide what is in and out of our control and how to give ourselves compassion when we find something that we want to be able to control but cannot.
Miu Lan’s mom is the only parent presented or discussed. If your child is used to seeing two parents in a household they might have questions about where Miu Lan’s other parent or parents are. This is a good opportunity to talk about the many different compositions of a family and the fact that, no matter what the composition is, they can all be places of love and support.
- What did other students do in response to Miu Lan? How did Miu Lan feel?
- If you were in Miu Lan’s class, what are some ways you could show them support?
- What did Miu Lan’s mom do to express love and support for them? What are things people in your life do to show you love and support?
- Why do you think the other kids had a hard time accepting Miu Lan at first?
- If you could have any features of any humans or animals, what would they be?
- Draw yourself (or make a collage using pictures from magazines, printed from computer) with features of different animals – feel free to combine different features that you wouldn’t normally see together!
- Write a story about one of the other kids in Miu Lan’s class
- For each of the following situations, name what feelings Miu Lan might be feeling and act out those feelings for someone else to guess. What did it feel like to act out those feelings? Talk with you playmate about what they do when they feel those feelings.
- When Miu Lan goes to their first day of school
- When another student calls Miu Lan weird
- When another student compliments Miu Lan
- Trace your hand on a piece of paper. Thinking about a recent challenge you faced and inside the hand write about the things that you could control about the situation and outside of the hand write about the things that you could not control.