LIU AND THE BIRD

A JOURNEY IN CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY

This confusing foray into Chinese writing pairs a dreamy narrative illustrated with handsome linocut and painted-paper collage scenes with small representations of selected characters’ supposed evolution from pictogram to (simplified) modern form. In the story, a child travels along a river to a forest, over mountains and down to her grandfather’s, where she draws a bird that comes to life and flies away. Thirty words have been pulled from the text; in tiles along the side, each goes in three steps from a painted picture through an unspecified historical transitional form to a freely-brushed modern rendition. Like these stages, the word choices—“treetop,” “crossroads,” “ shine”—are arbitrary, less likely to be something children might learn and use than the more common and concrete words in Huy Voun Lee’s In the Leaves (2005) and its several companion volumes. Young readers may enjoy the story, but will likely skip the orthographic history and the vague suggestions for follow-up activities at the end. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7358-2050-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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WAITING FOR BABY

One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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