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
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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 EstesCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved