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A Story of Love, Family, and Chinese Characters

by Kat Yeh & illustrated by Huy Voun Lee

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8027-2178-5
Publisher: Walker

In Chinese folklore, the theme of the artist who brings paintings to life is told again and again. In this contemporary family story, Agong (“Grandfather”) teaches his Chinese-American granddaughter Jasmine calligraphy as he creates mythological creatures and wonderful worlds for Jasmine to explore while Tai-Tai, her little brother, naps. After Agong dies, she shares the skill with Tai-Tai so they can re-create their wonderful artist-grandfather. There’s a lot to absorb here, and backmatter to accommodate: Chinese characters, pronunciation of Chinese words in the afterword (although the tones will be hard to repeat, despite the patient explanations) and the description of Chinese delicacies mentioned in the text. The short history of paper-cuts (used in the illustrations, along with rubber stamps and ink) will probably appeal more to adults than children. The flat designs incorporate both printed papers and key characters (which also appear in the page corners), but they never really bounce to life the way that they do in more traditional Chinese tales. Heartfelt and quite lovely, but not magical. (Picture book. 4-7)