Review: I Am Able to Shine

I’m sure many of you already know that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To kick off the celebrations, I am sharing I Am Able to Shine by husband and wife duo Korey Watari and Mike Wu. Inspired by Korey’s own experiences growing up as a young Asian American girl in Los Angeles, I Am Able to Shine is an empowering picture book about embracing your identity and finding your voice

Title: I Am Able to Shine
Author: Korey Watari
Illustrator: Mike Wu
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: May 1, 2022
Format: Picture Book

I Am Able to Shine follows a young girl names Keiko who wants to shine and change the world. But sometimes Keiko feels invisible. With the love and support of her family, Keiko learns that she is enough by just be being herself. Her confidence blooms and she stands tall, proud of herself and her heritage all the way into her adult life where she achieves great things.

Korey Watari wrote this inspiring picture book for her daughters, and it shows in the very best way. You can see the love on every single page.

The backmatter contains a heartfelt author’s note as well as further detail about aspects of Japanese life that are mentioned throughout the book. I love that this book is both a mirror for young Japanese American readers, and a window for young readers who are less familiar with Japanese culture.

Mike Wu’s illsutrations bring Keiko’s story to life beautifully. His artwork has been described as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George”, and I can absolutely see why. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, and I loved the nostalgia of it all.

I Am Able to Shine officially released yesterday, so you can find a copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Two Lions for sharing this beautiful book with me. I’m so grateful to share it with everyone today!

About the Creators:

Husband-and-wife team Korey Watari and Mike Wu live in the San Francisco Bay area in California with their two lively daughters. This is their first picture book together.


Korey is a sansei, or third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in Los Angeles. She played basketball for a Japanese American league, graduated from the University of California, Riverside, and studied at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Korey has worked in the animation and fashion industries for companies such as Disney and the Gap. This is her first picture book. Learn more at http://www.koreywatari.com or on Twitter at @tinyteru.


Mike is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed, bestselling Ellie series, the first picture book of which was named one of NPR’s best books of the year. He is also a Pixar artist and has worked on films including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story 3, Coco, and Soul. His illustrations have been hailed as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George.” Visit him at http://www.theartofmikewu.com or on Instagram at @wudog23.

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