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by Na Liu

illustrated by Andres Vera Martinez


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ Gr 4 Up— Based on her childhood experiences, Na Liu and her husband have created a rich, multilayered memoir, incorporating history, geography, language, culture, and mythology into eight short stories; then weaving them together to create an exquisite tapestry of life in China during the 1970s. The work follows a logical progression, capturing youthful experiences against a broad Chinese landscape. Background information establishes each story and seamlessly segues into personal reminiscence, with excellent interweaving of each section. For example, the introductory dream sequence features Na Liu and her sister flying on a crane’s back over panoramic China. The first narrative panel depicts the girls’ awakening, with a painting of a white crane visible behind their bed. Mythological origins of New Year transition into an account of the family’s celebration, with red banners and a dragon puppet echoing the colors and patterns from the previous holiday description. Scenes of daily life are juxtapostioned against the political climate, retelling simple stories through comic panels that can be enjoyed by young readers, but also delivering interesting perspectives and biting commentary on social issues. The grim realities of government propaganda, social class, and family dynamics make the memoir even more poignant. Humor, as well as the plays on words, enlivens many of the sections. The children’s expressive faces provide a personal reaction to these contrasting points of view. This picturesque treasure introduces Chinese culture through a personal perspective that is both delightful and thought-provoking.—Babara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY –Babara M. Moon (Reviewed September 1, 2012) (School Library Journal, vol 58, issue 9, p172)


  • School Library Journal Best Books: 2012


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Family, Folklore