Review and Giveaway!: I Am Able to Shine by Korey Watari, Illustrated by Mike Wu


I Am Able to Shine
Author: Korey Watari
Illustrator: Wike Wu
Published May 1st, 2022 by Two Lions

Summary: An affirmative, empowering story about embracing your identity and finding your voice, inspired in part by debut author Korey Watari’s experiences growing up Asian American, and illustrated by her husband, Mike Wu, Pixar artist and creator of the Ellie series.

I am beautiful.
I belong here.
What I do matters.
I am able to shine.

Each night Keiko whispers to her crane, “I wish to change the world.” She is kind, and she has big dreams. But at times she feels invisible; she knows some people misjudge her. Keiko is also loved, so she perseveres and stands strong. Over time, her confidence grows, she shares more of herself, and she helps lift up others—and eventually lead them. She understands that no matter what, she can shine.

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 and 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 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 or on Instagram at @wudog23.

Review: Keiko’s story is beautiful! Watari’s empowering and inspirational text scream from the pages filled with Wu’s emotional and colorful illustrations. The book begins with our introduction to Keiko and her dream. Her dream to be able to be both kind and courageous, determined and hopeful, strong and loved… She wants to figure out how to balance all of her parts of personality to become who she is meant to be.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The back matter of the text takes the book to another level. The author’s note and aspects of Japanese life reflected in the book allow for an extended discussion about students’ culture, empowering differences, and filling life with “courage, kindness, perseverance, inspiration, hope, and love.”

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do Watari and Wu combine inspiration and narrative in the book?
  • How do the illustrations add to Keiko’s story?
  • How did the author’s life inspire the book?
  • How did the author and illustrate reflect Keiko’s Japanese AND American culture?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Lala’s Word by Gracey Zhang; Brilliant Bea by Shaina Rudolph & Mary Vukadinovich, illustrated by Fiona Lee; Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Al-Hathloul Lina, illustrated by Rebecca Green; To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

Recommended For: 



Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of I Am Able to Shine, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. and Canada addresses).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

3 thoughts on “Review and Giveaway!: I Am Able to Shine by Korey Watari, Illustrated by Mike Wu”

  1. This book sounds so powerful with its message. I’m excited to read it and share. I love the Kalamazoo illustration (Michigander here) and the fact the character plays basketball and embraces her culture.


Leave a Reply to Danielle Hammelef Cancel reply