Allen Say’s picture book The Favorite Daughter is dedicated to his daughter. It’s the story of Yuriko, who is half Japanese. She is upset when other children make fun of her name and tease her about a photo of her wearing a kimono because she has blond hair. Her art teacher mispronounces her name, calling her “Eureka.” Yuriko decides she wants to change her name to Michelle, but after she and her father visit a Japanese restaurant and the Japanese Garden at Golden Gate Park, Yuriko begins to appreciate her uniqueness.
The lovely watercolor and pen and ink illustrations and the emotional expressiveness of Say writing about his daughter enhance the appeal of this book to children, and the story raises a range of interesting philosophical questions. What is the significance of a name? How do our names identify and define us? What makes up our cultural identity? Can it change? What does it mean to be part of a community? Can we be unique individuals and belong to a group at the same time?