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A SONG FOR BA by Paul Yee


by Paul Yee & illustrated by Jan Peng Wang

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: May 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-88899-492-3
Publisher: Groundwood

An unusual immigrant story offers a fascinating glimpse into an unfamiliar art form. In the Chinatown of a Pacific Rim city in perhaps the 1930s, a boy named Wei lives with his father and grandfather. Both are famous singers in the Chinese opera, where men perform all the parts, both male and female. Wei’s father Ba will not teach him opera, for he feels there’s no future in it. But Wei learns the high, clear female parts from his grandfather. Grandfather goes back to China one last time, and Wei’s father goes on tour with the troupe. When Ba returns, he has to learn women’s parts as the beleaguered troupe needs more versatility, and it is Wei who teaches him, based on grandfather’s instruction. Wang uses paint beautifully in these illustrations, now letting the canvas texture through, now using the heft of the color to add gravity and sparkle. The images are fully realized paintings of the city, the home, and the theater, rich in costume and characterization. Especially suitable for older children and studies of immigrant life and culture. (Picture book. 7-10)