Graphic memoirs are a cornerstone of the graphic-novel format, but rarely are they written with children as the primary audience. In eight short stories, Liu has done just that, giving younger readers a glimpse into her life growing up in China just after the death of Chairman Mao. By linking her stories to a teaching by Confucius that says one learns in three ways—by studying history, by imitating others, and through one’s own experience—Liu shows how her parents survived the famine during China’s Great Leap Forward, how the death of soldier Lei Feng influenced the behavior of Liu and her sister, and how a trip to the countryside to visit her relations helped Liu realize just how privileged her life in the city was. The stories are vivid even without Martinéz’s bold artwork that evokes both traditional Chinese scrolls and midcentury propaganda posters. The result is a memoir that reads like a fable, a good story with a moral that resonates. Grades 4-7. --Eva Volin
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About the Author
Na Liu is a doctor of hematology and oncology. She moved from Wuhan, China, to Austin, Texas, in 1998 to work as a research scientist for MD Anderson Cancer Center. She met her husband, Andrés Vera Martínez, in Austin.
Andrés Vera Martínez was born in Lamesa, Texas, and was raised in Austin. He has created comics and illustrations for Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, CBS/Showtime, and the New York Times
. His work has received awards and recognition from the Society of Illustrators, 3x3 Magazine
, and American Illustration
Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez live in Brooklyn, New York, with their daughter, Mei Lan. They take annual trips to visit their families in Wuhan and Austin.