The Mystery of the Painted Fan (Paperback)
Jacob Nguyen is pretty used to getting his way, so when his parents won't let him get a pink helmet for hockey, he's pretty confused. It turns out, people have a lot of weird rules and expectations they expect boys to follow, and Jacob doesn't understand any of them! As friends and family alike discourage Jacob from expressing himself in the ways that feel comfortable to him, Jacob finds solace in the painted fan willed to him by his late grandmother. The animals on the fan start leaping off the fan as apparition, to offer him the courage and strength to accept himself for who he is. This book is a beautiful exploration of gender identity, and the limiting constraints placed on boys' self-expression—especially boys of color—from a young age. Perfect for readers questioning their own gender, or boys with stereotypically "feminine" interests who feel out of place.
- Read Davidson, Harvard Book Store, (Cambridge, MA)— From NECBA Windows & Mirrors 2023 Short List
The third book in the early chapter book series The Nguyen Kids features the youngest sibling, Jacob, and continues the series' exploration of social justice themes, specifically gender expression and identity, with a supernatural twist.
BOOK 3: THE MYSTERY OF THE PAINTED FAN
When I shut the door, I hold my painted fan. I breathe in and out. I wonder . . . will Grandma Nội help me?
Thoughtful and creative, Jacob is tired of being the baby of the family. He is ready to fully express himself in all of the ways that feel right to him, but not everyone seems as eager to accept change--even his own parents. He still loves hockey, yet he also wants to try something new, even if others may not understand. Confused and frustrated, Jacob turns to the beautiful fan his Grandma Nội gave him, which features all of the Vietnamese zodiac animals. With the mysterious fan and memories of Grandma guiding him, Jacob finds the power to remain true to himself, and show his family who he could be.