Following Ming Goes to School (2016), the little girl is back for another subtle journey through the year’s seasons.
“Ming and Poppy know their way” and travel back and forth on foot, by bus, from school, through the park, to restaurants, on noisy streets, and in quiet places. Ming’s name is Chinese; Poppy could be Asian or white, allowing readers to imagine various family structures. In any case, their loving relationship is evident in the sketchy line-and-watercolor illustrations showing a little pale-skinned girl with black pigtails that stick straight out and a tall pleasant-looking gentleman, often holding hands or sitting close together, enjoying ice cream or doughnuts. The seasons are never mentioned in the spare, poetic text but are noted in the clothing, as Ming’s red school jumper is covered up by her coat and hat; boots replace shoes, which return; and finally she’s in blue shorts and sandals. Red leaves drop, and new spring flowers bloom to give further proof of the time of year. The little girl is mostly carefree, enjoying her friends and her grandpa, but there is a hint of childhood strife in the line “by sticks, by stones, / by names that sting,” when three children are shown whispering to one another and Ming plays alone on the sidewalk as Poppy looks sadly on.
Lovely and quiet, this is a book to savor again and again. (Picture book. 4-6)