Bao's Doll

by Bo Lu (Author)

Bao's Doll
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Bo Lu's picture book Bao's Doll is a moving story of empathy, forgiveness, and connection about an immigrant mother and her daughter who discover they have more in common than they ever knew.

Whenever Mama says, "when I was a little girl in Taiwan, we had nothing," Bao stops listening. Mama does not understand Bao, and Bao certainly does not understand Mama.

So when Bao desperately wants a doll--specifically, the beautiful, blonde All-American Artist Amanda doll that everyone else has--Bao takes matters into her own hands and steals Amanda from the store. After getting caught, Bao's chest feels heavy like a giant rock. But gradually, the awkward silence between Bao and Mama shifts to honesty, and eventually, a deeper understanding of what binds them.

Inspired by the childhood of debut talent Bo Lu, this poignant picture book brings emotional layers to the story of a parent and child learning to connect with their heritage and each other.

Select format:

Kirkus Reviews

An immigrant story that heals wounds present and past.

Publishers Weekly

For her birthday, Bao wants cake, balloons, and an expensive "All-American" branded doll like her peers have, but "Mama did not hear that." Nor does Mama understand Bao's longing to "share jokes, snuggles, and dreams," as the girl sees other mothers and daughters do. Instead, Mama describes her childhood in Taiwan ("We had nothing"), and a rift grows between the two. After Bao, desperate over the perceived unfairness, takes a doll from a store shelf and runs for the door, an even larger space crops up between them. Soon, though, they talk about Mama's upbringing and childhood longing for her own mother, and the two honor "Mama's memories and Bao's hopes" by making a doll that resembles them. Digital illustrations that mimic graphite and pastel add deep emotionality to a resonant debut that affirms family as well as cultural heritage. An author's note concludes. Background characters are portrayed with various skin tones. Ages 4-8. (June)

Copyright 2024 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes



Bo Lu
Bo Lu moved from bustling Taipei to suburban Kansas as a little girl. Before English words made sense, the world of picture books welcomed her in. It was in those pictures that she found comfort in her new beginning. As an author and illustrator, she hopes to create a safe space to explore big feelings through images and stories. Bo also finds comfort in slurping noodle soups, exploring the Bay Area Redwoods, and dancing with her girls around their dad at the dinner table. Bao's Doll is her debut picture book.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publication date
June 18, 2024
BISAC categories
JUV040000 - Juvenile Fiction | Toys, Dolls & Puppets
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV013060 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Mothers and daughters
Taiwanese Americans

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!