A young Chinese girl and her grandpa navigate life’s challenges and joys in a small neighborhood of Beijing.
In this graphic–short story collection, the author introduces readers to Yu’er, a girl with an unspecified physical disability that limits her mobility, and her loving grandfather. The first story opens with her dream of becoming a champion swimmer and a belief strong enough to carry her above her naysayers. From there, readers meet a boy who helps her fight off bullies, encounter the fantastical properties of an old mailbox, and finish by witnessing Yu’er’s reconciliation with a grumpy neighbor. Whimsical and sweet, this will remind readers of animated movies such as My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. With no fancy fight scenes or action shots, this is a slow and quiet delivery presented in a bright and warm palette of watercolors. Scenes depicted are plangent and sweet evocations of childhood, as in the “Bug Paradise” retreat Yu’er’s new friend shares with her and the story her retired-letter-carrier grandpa tells her via his stamp collection. The few cultural and translation footnotes help readers who may be confused by or unfamiliar with certain Chinese terminology or history.
Featuring family and friendships, this title is recommended for curious young readers looking for some magic in the everyday. (sketchbook, author’s note) (Graphic fiction. 8-12)