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by Paul Yee & illustrated by Grace Lin

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-56656-455-7
Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Family, faith, and the immigrant experience get equal treatment in Yee’s (Tales from Gold Mountain, 1999, etc.) latest offering. “This small gift comes from me and your friend, the sea,” says Yenyee’s fisherman father as he gives her a special necklace—a jade fish on a red cord—just before his disappearance in a typhoon. Lin’s (Where on Earth Is My Bagel?, 2001, etc.) color-soaked panel, framed in antique white, shows the girl standing defiantly against the wind and rain as misty, blue-and-green water swirls around her feet. “If I give you back my most precious possession, please will you give me back my father?” she pleads before she surrenders her necklace to the sea. With little money and few prospects, Yenyee joins Chen Ming, the local merchant, on his journey to the New World, where she will care for his daughter, May-Jen. “Do your job well,” says Yenyee’s mother, “and then perhaps our family will reunite one day.” When the child slips and falls into the ocean on a visit to a seaside park, Yenyee bravely saves her. Back on land, the two embrace and May-Jen discovers the long-abandoned jade necklace in Yenyee’s tangled hair. “How can I ever thank you?” Chen Ming asks when the girls return. “By bringing my mother and brother here to live with me,” she answers. In the end, a snapshot-sized illustration shows Yenyee welcoming her family as they sail to shore. Yee’s narrative takes flight alongside Lin’s accomplished illustration; unfortunately, his truncated closing falls a bit flat, leaving eager readers wishing for more. (Picture book. 5-10)