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
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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 RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved