MY CHINATOWN by Kam Mak
Kirkus Star

MY CHINATOWN

One Year in Poems
Age Range: 5 - 8

KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifteen untitled poems, handsomely illustrated with photo-realistic paintings, express the feelings of a young Chinese boy from Hong Kong as he adjusts to his new home in New York’s Chinatown. Grouped by the four seasons, the poems span the time from one Chinese New Year to the next. The simplicity of language and beautiful paintings evoke poignant imagery; phrasing like “ . . . school where English words taste like metal in my mouth” or a scene where an overhead perspective captures the boy and a girl playing chess on the floor with a cat pawing a marker, framing a tender moment. Even though the reader may not know firsthand all of the specific references—Tic-Tac-Toe–playing chicken, sidewalk cobbler, red confetti on streets from firecrackers—what comes through clearly is the boy’s gradual acceptance of his new home place where daily pleasures can be enjoyed without relinquishing memories of the past. (In a different style, William Low celebrates Chinatown [1997] with darkly hued, soft-edged oil paintings depicting a boy and his grandmother walking through the streets. The two could pair nicely.) The first-person voice and strong composition of art with vivid colors symbiotically make this boy’s personal emotional journey a universal experience. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-029190-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001