Review: What Is It? by Nicole Hoang and Dustin Nguyen


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It’s rather strange, I’d have to say.
I saw the thing just yesterday.
What is it?
What could it be?
Someone please answer this for me!

In a nearby forest, a young girl discovers a mysterious little creature. Together, they seek to understand who or what the other is.

Written by Nicole Hoang when she was a young girl, this book was beautifully painted by Dustin Nguyen (Lil’ Gotham, Study Hall of Justice), her husband, as a wedding gift. What Is It? captures the curiosity, wonder, and discovery of childhood, where it’s still easy to be surprised by the unexpected.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

The lure of adventure and discovery of a mysterious creature intrigued me to pick up this title. The cover features gorgeous artwork that was also a tempting factor leading to my reading this book.

I tackled this one a little differently than normal. Rather than read it by myself, I read it aloud to my 6 year old son this time to see what he thought of it. This is the first picture book for the publisher’s imprint KABOOM!, so who better to share it with than their target audience?

The premise for this book was better than the follow through. According to the description, this story was written by Nicole Hoang when she was ten and it doesn’t feel as though much was done to the story, editing wise, between then and now. The experience was poorer for that because there were awkward pauses in the story, forced rhyme schemes, and an ending that dropped off. It was so abrupt that I thought that perhaps my digital edition was missing a page.

My son liked the art as much as I did. The colors were very vivid and the style is absolutely perfect for storybooks. However, he got bored about halfway through the book and wanted to skip several pages. The pacing didn’t work for him in much the same way it didn’t for me.

I think the thought behind this book was a lovely idea: a wedding present illustrated by the husband based on a story by his wife. However, I believe for it to be truly successful, it ought to have been edited before being offered to a larger audience via traditional publishing methods. A more cohesive story would have made the book a more happy experience not only for me as a reader, but for me as a mother sharing it with my son.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.




All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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