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Brothers Hardcover – September 7, 2006

5 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5–When Ming arrives in San Francisco from China, he is met at the dock by his older brother Shek, a character first introduced in Coolies (Philomel, 2001). Disappointed that Brother Wong isn't there as well, Ming discovers that times aren't good, and that Wong is again working for the railroad. Shek is running a general store, but not many customers come to buy. Expected to mind the shop while Shek does extra labor on a nearby farm, Ming works hard, but is lonely and begins to explore beyond the Chinatown border. He discovers a school where he longs to go, but Shek explains that Chinese aren't welcome there. One day, Ming meets a friendly Irish boy who teaches him English, and together they devise a way to get more customers to the store. The story is heartwarming, but, unlike Coolies, both the story and the art paint a somewhat idealized picture. It is unlikely that the fortunes of the store could be so easily turned around just by hanging a sign saying that English is spoken there. Soentpiet's illustrations glow with light, and the faces of his characters register authentic emotions, but the settings are a little too perfect–no dirt, little clutter, store shelves bursting with food and other merchandise. Still, the sense of determination that drives the brothers to succeed in this alien environment makes this book a good addition to stories of the immigrant experience.–Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. In this sequel to Coolies (2000), young Ming arrives in San Francisco from China, eager to reconnect with his older brothers. Wong has returned to work on the railroads, but Shek invites Ming to help in his struggling Chinatown grocery store. Life is lonely for Ming until he makes friends with Patrick, an Irish immigrant living in a nearby neighborhood. As the friendship progresses, Ming learns some English, which enables him to promote the store to customers outside of Chinatown, greatly improving business. Soentpiet's luminescent, photo-realistic paintings, which provide many vivid setting details, perfectly complement Yin's thoughtful text. An afterward clarifies that this story is fiction and offers further information about Irish and Chinese immigration in the mid-1800s and the development of San Francisco's Chinatown. Great for group sharing, this tale will be welcomed by classes learning about history, immigration, and multiculturalism, as well as how to be a friend. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Lexile Measure: 580L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel (September 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399234063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399234064
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 0.4 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Brothers is a gentle story of a Chinese immigrant boy, Ming, who arrives in San Francisco in the mid 19th century to live with his two brothers and help them run their small store in Chinatown. Ming's desire for friendship pulls him across the boundary of his neighborhood where he befriends an Irish immigrant, Patrick O'Farrell, whose family came to America to escape starvation. The boys teach each other about their respective cultures and languages as well as devise a plan to save Ming's brothers' failing business.

This upbeat tale is narrated in the present tense by Ming and is accompanied by artist Chris Soentpiet's beautifully detailed paintings depicting Ming's new world as a happy, bustling community. Written at a primary level, this book introduces to young readers some basic historical facts about immigrants from China and Ireland who came to America 150 years ago while telling a story of friendship and acceptance. The Soentpiets, a husband and wife author/illustrator team, have also published the picture book Coolies, also about Chinese immigrants.
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Format: Hardcover
The main character in this book is a young Chinese immigrant who comes to San Francisco to help his (slightly) older brothers. Like many immigrants, they live and stay in an isolated community- and like many immigrants, they have good reason to be afraid of those on the outside. However, the young boy yearns for companionship of people his own age, and soon makes a friend of a young Irish immigrant. The two form an instant friendship, and through that the boy is able to save his family's store and eventually reunite his brothers.

In adult American history, much stress is put on the competition for resources and the animosity, resentment and violence that immigrant groups suffered as a result- particularly the very unprotected Chinese. All of that is implied in the older brother's warning that the boy should stay "with his own kind." However, it bears repeating, particularly in a children's story, that cooperation is far better for groups than tooth-baring competition. We can only hope that these two continued their friendship as they grew older and found other ways of bringing such cooperation to both of their communities.
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Format: Hardcover
Few children's book today can capture and engage my chidren's interest as much as BROTHERS. The illustrations reminds me of my history books I've collected about China. Obviously the illustrator have done his homework. All the details are richly depicted and accurately painted. If you want to know about Chinese American history or how Chinatown came to be, BROTHERS is a must have. This is a wonderful gift for any teacher or student wanting to learn about multi-cultural history. Although this is a children's book, this book is a welcome addition to all social studies curriculum on elementary, middle-school and high school levels. College art school professors can benefit by sharing with their students the beautiful watercolour and realistic paintings. Very few children's book today can capture the historical sensitivity and realism than Soentpiet's work.
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By Persop on September 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The artwork is superb. Incredibly detailed, colors and use of light. Each picture is a story in itself. It exudes empathy and research.
The writing is subtle and yet reflects the strong emotions and social issues. Simple but highly expressive.. Useful subjects that may
foster who we are and what preceded.. .The lighting is true both orally and visually.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful book.
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