Books by Belle Yang

Released: July 10, 2018

"A sweet tale about friendship that gives a glimpse of life in another part of the world, this loving tribute to Beijing is a perfect read-aloud for young travelers. (Picture book. 5-8)"
A Chinese girl in search of her lost kitty inadvertently takes readers on a tour of famous landmarks in Beijing. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 6, 2015

"A sweet story with lovely illustrations to boot, developmentally pitch-perfect for older babies and toddlers. (Board book. 1-3)"
A little hedgehog hurries home in an effort to avoid a coming storm in this bilingual board book. Read full book review >
Released: April 24, 2012

"Welcome additions. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)"
This bilingual offering blooms. Read full book review >
Released: May 10, 2010

"A transformational experience for author and reader alike."
East meets West in this occasionally playful yet profoundly moving graphic memoir. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

Foo Frog, Sue-Lin Salamander and Mao-Mao Mudpuppy share a special web-footed friendship. They were born on exactly the same spot on the banks of Washtub Pond, at exactly the same time and exactly the same size. But all too soon, everything begins to change. Foo Frog grows bigger. Along with his tummy, his head grows too. Just like Aesop's age-old arrogant frog, Foo boasts proudly, "I must be the biggest animal in the whole wide world!" He puffs himself up to prove it. But is he? The rumbling Kuong! Kuong! Kuong! of the elephant's footsteps tell otherwise. Bold swirls of wind and buoyant brush strokes effortlessly lift Foo into the air, sending him soaring over the pond. Yang's bright, folk-art-style gouache illustrations and animated sound effects enliven this fable. Young readers will delight in spotting other tiny, whimsical characters along the journey—especially Washtub Pond's keenly observant snail. Luckily for Foo, this story ends in sweet lessons of friendship and humility, not a fatal burst. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Chinese twins Mei-Mei and Di-Di raise their two doves to fly freely, but to return home, just as Mama (mother) and Baba (father) expect their children to behave. When grateful Baba gives the doves to his brother in return for his help on the family's farm, the twins are sad but don't communicate their hurt feelings to their busy father. When Uncle Baldy returns, the twins hide in his wagon and travel to his house, only to discover that their birds have flown away. Fearing punishment when they return home, the remorseful girl and boy discover that their beloved doves have come back and that Mama and Baba are anxiously awaiting the twins. Set in the rural northern countryside, the only clue that the story may take place in modern times is that the girl also attends school. The gouache paintings have the vibrant folk-art feeling of Chinese paintings done in the last few decades, but show no signs of contemporary life. An additional purchase, but will be enjoyed for its attractive illustrations. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

This thoughtful offering is based on Yang's own immigration story, and is told from the perspective of seven-year-old Hannah, who moves with her mother and father from Taiwan to San Francisco. The story is richly detailed, and effectively conveys what it's like to come to a new country from a faraway place and adjust to life in unfamiliar surroundings. The child changes her name (they choose Hannah, because it's deemed easy to learn) and the family waits for the green cards that will ensure their future in America. The tension is palpable. Yang's colorful gouache illustrations effectively convey this mix of excitement and anxiety. Despite a jarring reference to Martin Luther King Jr. that places the otherwise contemporary-sounding tale in the 1960s, Yang's offering is winner—a spot-on depiction of the immigrant experience in America. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1999

Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin is a donkey that knows what it likes and what it dislikes. Complementing Yang's color-saturated artwork is a simple text that makes clear Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin's purpose and declaration: "Some people say, ‘Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin, you sweet donkey, I want to ride you, I want to own you.' ‘Oh, no, never! Impossible!' I tell them, and send them on their way," with a hoof to the hindquarters. There is one person Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin enjoys spending time with: the little boy who named him, after the sounds of the bells around the donkey's neck. They travel around the countryside, season to season, in pursuit of blossoms in spring and turtles in summer, persimmons in the fall, and laying down a fresh set of tracks in the snow. They are pals who appreciate the subtlety of friendship, as when "he gives me room to be alone with my thoughts." Whether giving room or sharing good times, Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin and the boy's approach gives friendship an enviable suppleness. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 27, 1996

A continuation of the story begun in Yang's unique chronicle of her father's boyhood in China during the 1930s and '40s, Baba: A Return to China Upon My Father's Shoulders (1994). In this volume, now a strong-willed 17-year-old, Baba leaves the family home in Manchuria in search of a new life. WW II has recently ended, and the nation is in turmoil. Trusting neither the Communists nor the Nationalists, he makes his way warily through a tumultuous countryside. He watches as the Communists open fire on a group of students and witnesses paranoid eruptions of violence in the villages. Yet he also encounters kindness and is sheltered early on in a monastery where an old abbott tries to teach him detachment: ``If one . . . sees the world of appearances as transitory, one will transcend the pain, the pain of restless longing and discontent; only then will one be released from the endless cycles of suffering.'' But Baba wants to experience the world, and eventually he ends up in Taiwan teaching Mandarin and hygiene to an unpolished, isolated tribe distinguished by their tattooed faces. Shortly afterward he meets his wife-to-be. It isn't the stylistic merit of Yang's prose (which sometimes has a clichÇd, stilted sound) that makes her books so appealing, but rather the sense of an odyssey undertaken and of wonderful things revealed. Baba's fascination with life, his desire to learn, sustain him in the face of violence and treachery. The 20 colorful, elegiac paintings by Yang that accompany the text, populated by bald smiling baby heads and animals, convey the same sense of imminent magic and of fluid, changeable life. Yang's work has the feel of oral history and folk narrative commingled and begs to be read aloud. A talented, highly original blend of vivid family history and art. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

With poetic prose and vivid watercolors, Yang has created a rich portrait of life in China during the 1930s and '40s. Yang chronicles her Baba's (or Daddy's) boyhood and adolescence in 20 tales, each preceded by a watercolor. Baba was the fourth son in the eighth generation of the wealthy House of Yang, and his landscape teems with physical and spiritual dangers. He's threatened by torrential rains, ravenous wolves, red-bearded bandits, famines, demons, Japanese bombs, Russian troops, Communists, Nationalists, even an arranged marriage. When Baba is six, his family is forced out of their Manchurian homeland after the Japanese invasion. They move to China proper, then return five years later when Baba's father loses his job with a mining company. They live under the protective patronage of the family Patriarch until a bloody tug-of-war between followers of Mao and Chiang Kai- shek rends the family and country apart. Ancient legends, political upheavals, and religious ceremonies define Baba's youth. Storytellers teach him about gods and demons, prodigal sons, and the ghosts of the improperly buried. Their wisdom then plays out in his own life as Baba witnesses the goddess of Mercy protect his mother from marauding invaders; the troubled ways of one of his older brothers; and a 49-day funeral ceremony ensuring his great- great-grandfather safe passage to Heaven. Yang's prose feels ancient and foreign; for instance, she describes the effects of the first Japanese bombs: ``The glass windowpanes inhaled and exhaled, but the paper panes heaved a sigh and suddenly gave way, cracking like white porcelain.'' The tension between ancient rituals and modern reality elevates these tales from the merely beautiful into an astonishing personal vision, and a unique portrait emerges of a culture straddling thousands of years. Yang's work is like a lovely painted scroll swimming with wild souls, beasts, birds, flowers, day and night sky, tragedy, and hope. Read full book review >