Books by Milly Lee

LANDED by Milly Lee
by Milly Lee, illustrated by Yangsook Choi
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 3, 2006

Drawing on the reminiscences of her father-in-law, Lee details 12-year-old Sun's emigration to San Francisco from China in 1915. Sun's father, a merchant with a U.S. business, informs Sun that he will join his brothers, studying and working in America. Sun's tutor painstakingly prepares him for the challenges of immigration. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants, many of them boys, were detained on Angel Island, awaiting hours of interrogation about the minutiae of their families and villages. Officials sought inconsistencies exposing "paper sons"—boys posing as the offspring of U.S. citizens or merchants. Though a "true son," Sun worries that his poor sense of direction will cause him to answer incorrectly. Lee's narration of Sun's weeks on Angel Island—waiting, befriending two paper sons, and enduring the grueling interviews—is plain and measured, reflecting the serious burden Sun withstands. Choi's full-bleed and spot illustrations employ muted greens and ochres to depict village scenes, the sea journey and the detention center. This testament to the pull of "Gold Mountain" offers a bit of Chinese-American history in a handsome package. (author's note) (Picture book. 7-11)Read full book review >
EARTHQUAKE by Milly Lee
ADVENTURE
Released: Aug. 2, 2001

Early on the morning of April 18, 1906, an earthquake shook the city of San Francisco, collapsing buildings and igniting fires that raged for days. In the straightforward words of the girl who was her mother, Lee (Nim and the War Effort, 1997) tells the story. Her family—grandmother, parents, and brothers—were thrown from their beds in San Francisco's Chinatown that morning, and quickly packed not only food and clothing but also the precious portraits of their ancestors and the statue of the Goddess of Mercy Kwan Yin. They loaded a cart and pushed and pulled it through the city to Golden Gate Park. (Lee explains that the bound feet of mother and grandmother made it impossible for them to walk very far.) There, from tents, they watched the city burn. The illustrations' sculptured forms and geometric shapes make a pattern of stability against dark vistas of smoke, fire, and destruction. The strength of the figures stands in contrast to the fear and hunger the child describes, enabling young readers to take in the scene and still find reassurance and comfort. A good way to introduce the youngest of readers to a calamitous event. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
NIM AND THE WAR EFFORT by Milly Lee
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: March 21, 1997

The recycling of paper is not new, nor is racism. This book explores both in the historical context of San Francisco's Chinatown during WW II. Nim is competing in a school newspaper drive to help the war effort. In her free time she scouts out the neighborhood for more paper, red wagon in tow, and runs into her closest competitor, Garland Stephenson. He's not above stealing a pile of papers left for Nim by her aunt, taking new papers from a vendor, or ridiculing Nim by saying that the winner of the competition will be an American, and ``not some Chinese smarty-pants.'' Nim almost gets the last laugh when she discovers a motherlode of newspapers in a garage in Nob Hill, and calls the police to deliver them to her school. However, her discovery makes her late getting home, and she is reprimanded by her grandfather. Nim's close relationship and respect for her grandfather temper her pride in her success. The muted colors of the illustrations and the unhurried beginning create an intimate, if slow-moving, story. What separates this story from simple nostalgia is Lee's close recollection of details—the scarcity of newspaper during the war years, or the flag pin worn by Chinese-Americans (so they would not be identified as ``the enemy''—the Japanese). All these details place the affecting story in a real, not idealized, America. (Picture book. 6+) Read full book review >