Books by Jr. McKay

Released: May 1, 1998

This enormously touching book from McKay (Caravan, 1995) tells the story of Mai and her mother's journey to Vietnam in search of the mother's birth family. Mai narrates as her mother, left at an orphanage in Saigon when she was a baby, searches the records and attempts to find a clue to her family—a thread she can follow to her source. Their search pivots on the design of a kite, similar to the one that was Mai's mother only possession when she came to the US. As their journey continues, Mai finds herself busy with issues of identity and belonging: Her father deserted the family when she was a baby, her mother seems serene about her search; Mai notices that she looks more like the people in this new country than she looks like those back home. Adding to the poignancy of the story is the immediacy of its context, its near history, and its palpable expression of the madness and carnage of war. The Lees' soft artwork is especially expressive in the depiction of faces; in the scene in which Mai's mother meets an old friend of her father's, who bestows upon her her real name and explains the circumstances under which she was left at the orphanage, there won't be a dry eye among readers and listeners. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
CARAVAN by Jr. McKay
by Jr. McKay, illustrated by Darryl Ligasan
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

Jura is one of the nomadic Kirghiz people of Afghanistan, preparing for the first time to accompany his father on a caravan across the Hindu Kush mountains for supplies. On horseback he tends three camels, leading them past rushing rivers, through snow-swept mountain passes, and down to the city below. McKay's first book has an unusual, vivid setting that comes through despite Jura's formal- sounding, matter-of-fact narration. Newcomer Ligasan's richly colored paintings, showing a variety of perspectives and set off with decorative patterned borders, evocatively capture the landscape during the journey. His figures are somewhat stiff, but the drama of Jura's descent into the market and his return home will give readers an armchair tour of a unique locale. The author's note includes geographic information and also acts as a glossary. (Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >