Saturday, December 31, 2022

Review: Mighty Mara by Carina Ho and Jesse Byrd


Genre: Children's 4-7
Published: May 16, 2023
Pages: 48

Meet Mara: a vibrant and upbeat little girl living in bland and homogenous Sametown. She aspires to be a dancer (she loves to dance!) and knows she can be successful despite her disability. Amidst her town’s growing dissuasion and heckling, she practices and remains positive, culminating in a colorful, strut-your-stuff moment at her school talent show!

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review.

This is a story about Mara who lives in a town where everyone is the same and enjoys all the same things, but she's already a little bit different. She decides she wants to enter the talent show to dance. Almost everyone discourages her from doing it, except her mom, and she perseveres and does it anyway. In the end, everyone loves her dance, and yet she doesn't win the talent show, because apparently pulling an animal out of a hat like everyone else is way more impressive in her town. 

I thought the illustrations were very cleverly done. I didn't realize why the townspeople thought dancing was a weird choice for Mara until the talent show, and actually went back through to check if I'd just missed it. I hadn't. The talent show was the reveal. 

I'm pretty sure I'd be okay to read this book multiple times to children, especially because the message is that just because others think you can't do something doesn't mean you shouldn't try and that you won't be great at it. Overall I give this book 4.6 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Carina Ho is dancer and musician who performs under the moniker ONIKHO. Having trained in dance and music since childhood, Carina joined AXIS Dance Company, a physically integrated dance company that casts dancers with and without disabilities, shortly after sustaining a spinal cord injury. Over the next two years she toured the United States with them until she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, for which she relocated to Montevideo, Uruguay to teach at the national dance conservatory El SODRE. During this time, Carina also began developing her music project, which melds her influences of classical, blues, and electronic music. Today she primarily tours as a musical artist, often collaborating with other disabled artists to promote the visibility of diverse bodies in the arts.

Her work can be found at

Jesse Byrd is an international award-winning children’s book author and the youngest NPR Board member. At 6’8”, Jesse pivoted from playing basketball at UCSB to pursue his passion for storytelling. After working at Google in Silicon Valley and later EY in Dubai as Director of Communications for Middle East and North Africa, Jesse turned all of his energy toward his deepest love: making stories for youth and families with a focus on supporting diverse creators and #own voices material. He’s written six children’s books and helped produce over 40 others as an editor, art director, and publishing consultant. Jesse is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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