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Shanghai Messenger Paperback – September 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Library Binding edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584302380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584302384
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–Eleven-year-old Xiao Mei is on her way to China to meet her extended family. She was initially reluctant to make the trip, wondering if she would be accepted because she is only half Chinese, but her grandmother, Nai Nai, tells stories of family members that pique her curiosity. Xiao Mei agrees to be Nai Nai's messenger, and to Look everything./Remember. Once in Shanghai, the girl is warmly welcomed, and begins to learn about and appreciate her heritage. She makes wontons with Auntie, visits gardens where her great-grandfather's words are carved in the archways, and participates in morning Tai Chi exercises. When Xiao Mei returns home to Ohio after a week, she takes gifts, including a fan painted by an uncle that brings a little bit of China to America. Cheng does an admirable job of capturing this experience from the perspective of a child, and each free-verse chapter is brief but satisfying. With the exception of one spread illustrating the Tai Chi exercises, Young's illustrations delicately intertwine with the text, gently supporting each vignette. This is a superb book, capturing both the excitement and adventure of Xiao Mei's trip, as well as her realization that family ties can bridge great distances.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. In many of today's immigration stories, the break with the Old Country is not as final as it used to be, and young people travel back and forth across borders and generations to visit extended family and explore their roots. In this picture book for older children, 11-year-old Xiao Mei, the child of an American father and a Chinese mother, is persuaded by Grandma Nai Nai in America to take up the invitation from Uncle Hai Tao to spend the summer in Shanghai. Cheng's free-verse story, illustrated with Young's small, expressive line-and-watercolor pictures, shows the child's initial doubts, the plane journey and the arrival, and the welcoming young cousins and adults. Whether she is making wontons, doing tai chi in the park, helping her cousin buy a computer, or singing the songs from The Lion King in English and Chinese, she discovers her connections with a rich, exciting world. A glossary and a pronunciation guide will help readers pronounce the Mandarin names and words. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Format: Paperback
11-year-old Chinese-American, Xiao Mei, is invited to visit her extended family in China. Initially uncertain about traveling alone to a place where she speaks little of the language, Xiao Mei impulsively accepts after her grandmother, Nai Nai (who lives with Xiao Mei) sketches their family tree. En-route to Shanghai, Xiao Mei finds a note from Nai Nai thanking her for being her "messenger." Ultimately, Xiao Mei is a courier in both directions, as she also carries gifts and messages of affection from the Chinese relatives back home to Ohio.

"Shanghai Messenger" is told through a set of 30 prose poems, each a page or two long. The poems form a single, narrow column on each page, vertically bordered on both sides with airy orange lattices reminiscent of rice-paper screens, and set off by small ink, pastel and charcoal drawings by Ed Young, the 1990 Caldecott Award-winning artist, who himself grew up in Shanghai. With plenty of white space to balance the concise text and decorative borders, the pages feel clean and open, yet attractive. There is also one double-spread centerfold illustration, and the cover picture, which is not repeated inside the book. The poems serve as sequential "snapshots": those about Xiao Mei's experiences in Shanghai particularly resemble travel album photos, offering colorful images of her arrival, and of such everyday and "tourist" activities as making wontons, visiting public gardens with historical family significance, participating in the community Tai Chi morning exercise routine, visiting a school, and doing laundry as the Chinese do. Not all is without challenge. At one point, Xiao Mei gets ill, as travelers often do.
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Format: Paperback
Shanghai Messenger is a book of poetry by Andrea Cheng and pictures by Ed Young describing an eleven-year-old girl's trip to visit her extended family in Shanghai, China. Half-American, half-Chinese Xiao Mei is both excited and fearful as she sets foot in a strange land, yet the words of her grandmother - to look about herself and remember - reverberate in her heart. Bit by bit she comes to understand a different way of life and appreciate her Chinese heritage. She experiences everything from traditional braids to Tai Chi to making wontons and meeting her relatives for the first time. At last the day comes when she has to return home, full of precious memories to share with Grandma Nai back in the States. A gentle and encouraging book about learning to appreciate differences, as well as the roots of one's family history. Making Wontons: Auntie chops the onions / so fine / with her big knife / moving fast. / Pork, green onions, / each wrapper gets a bit, / the fold the thin dough / and pinch tight. / My wontons are too fat. / One cracks, / but Auntie says, "Hen hao Xiao Mei." / Very good. / At the end / there's a speck of meat / left in the bowl. / Auntie unwraps a wonton, / careful not to break the skin, / tucks the speck inside / and folds it back.
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Format: Paperback
I knew immediately that I was going to love this book. The title and the gorgeously illustrated cover were enough to tell me that. I was not disappointed. The illustrations remained beautiful and touching throughout the whole of the book, and the story itself was absolutely lovely.

It's an unfortunate fact that, even today, life can be very difficult for children of mixed American families. Often times, these children feel as if they have enough of each culture so as not to fit in anywhere. In America,they are foreign; in their "other" country, they are American. I have seen it happen time and time again that children will reject their non-American half, turning away from it, wanting to have nothing to do with it.

It is for this very reason that the existence of stories like "Shanghai Messenger" is so important. As the reader reads the story of Xao Mei's voyage to China, seeing how she slowly integrates and learns to cherish her Chinese half, he will come to understand that it is possible to be two different things at once. Just as Xao Mei comes to terms with the fact that, while she is American, she is also Chinese, readers of mixed background will learn that it is okay, and even a positive thing, to embrace their other culture as Xao Mei does.

This book might just be a necessity for parents of mixed children to read with their children. It will also be great in classrooms with mixed children. I firmly believe that it will help teacher to show children not only how to accept themselves but also how to accept those that may be different from them.
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Format: Paperback
Shanghai Messenger is a beautiful book of poetry written by Andrea Cheng and paired with the lovely illustrations of Ed Young. The poems and drawings work together harmoniously, as they tell the story of young Xiao Mei, who is half American and half Chinese and her experiences upon visiting family in Shanghai. Xiao Mei is excited and intrigued about visiting her Chinese family; however she is nervous about the meeting her strange relatives as well as dealing with cultural differences. Ultimately, she learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage through her many experiences in Shanghai, from traditional hair braids, to making wontons and even learning about Tai Chi. Upon returning to the United States, Xiao Mei is 'lled with pride and appreciation for both her Chinese and American cultures. This is a fantastic book for children ages 9-12 years old, clearly readers will enjoy the book's lovely cadence as well as its thoughtful and heartfelt story and delicate drawings.
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