We recently listened to an amazing audiobook that surprised me by its depth and language. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is a Newbery Honor book for good reason. By weaving Chinese traditional folktale into a modern story about a girl living in poverty, Ms Lin creates a fairy tale odyssey that stands tall as a modern classic. Her own illustrations add further character to the richness of the tale. A dragon, a mysterious “old man of the moon,” beautiful mountain villages, and riddles she does not understand give Min Li an adventure that most children will delight in.Continue Reading
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord (published 1984) tells of one girl’s journey from her traditional Chinese home to New York City in 1947. How can Shirley hold on to her heritage in such a strange land?Continue Reading
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.
While searching my computer files for something last week, I found reviews of some Caldecott winners that I wrote at various points in the past two years. Although these books are not, for the most part, books I’ve read aloud to my son, I still found them interesting. A few I had strong negative opinions of; they show that even books that earned the Caldecott award do become dated!
I hope there is some book here that interests you, whether you read it to a child or find the subject or art pleasing as an adult. Continue Reading