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by Belle Yang


Fromm School Library Journal

A girl describes her family’s journey from Taiwan to the United States in 1967, explaining that she must give up her Chinese name, Na-Li, and adjust to her unfamiliar American name. Hannah relates how she and her parents try to adapt to a new way of life, observing the strange customs that they encounter and detailing the obstacles that they all must face. They immediately apply for green cards, a process that demands an interminable wait. Yang draws a parallel between Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of freedom and Hannah’s family’s quest for equal opportunity, but the narrative deals primarily with Mama and Baba’s efforts to secure legal status and work. The significance of the green card, what immigrants must do to find employment, and the portrayal of the immigrant community’s support for newcomers are all neatly presented. The setting–San Francisco with its skyline, bridges, hilly streets, and Chinatown–as well as elements of Chinese culture are nicely evoked in both the text and artwork. Engaging gouache illustrations comprised of vivid colors, dynamic perspectives, and stylized figures in two-dimensional views reflect the influence of the block print. Pair this autobiographical tale with Helen Recorvits’s My Name Is Yoon (Farrar, 2003), a book that touches on similar themes about being a stranger in a strange land.–Marian Creamer, Children’s Literature Alive, Portland, OR


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Ages 4-8, Ages 6-9, Cultural Differences, Family, Historical Fiction, Kindergarten