Little White Duck by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez (2012 by Lerner Publishing) is a children’s graphic novel with eight stories illustrating the lives of two small children in China during the 1970s. The stories are based on the author’s life, and focus on the two girl’s awakening understanding of the world around them: crying when Mao has died, even though at age 4 they don’t understand; searching for rats to kill for a school assignment; helping in the rice fields.
The title story refers to when one of the girls goes to visit her father’s village. She is shocked when all the children are dirty; they all touch the velvet white duck on her jacket, leaving it dirty black. It was an eye-opening trip for her to understand the people do not all live as she does.
The illustrations are in full color. I liked the drawing style. If I have any complaints, it is that I could not tell the two sisters (Da Qing and Xiao Qing) apart from each other in the stories. It also was so short, I found myself wanting more. In general, though, this would a nice introduction for young readers to be introduced to a different country. The book ends with a glossary of Mandarin Chinese terms used, as well as a timeline for Chinese history. It is a good introduction for helping children see the world as larger than their own experience, as Da Qing’s experience in her father’s village illustrates. Little White Duck may help children understand what a childhood in China was like a few decades ago.
Note: I read a digital copy of this book via netgalley.com for review consideration.