Friday, December 28, 2012

Little White Duck

Title: Little White Duck: A Childhood in China
Author: Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Pages: 108
Audience: 9-13
Genre: Memoir in Graphic Novel Format
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Release Date: October 12, 2012

Description from Goodreads:
The world is changing for two girls in China in the 1970s. Da Qin—Big Piano—and her younger sister, Xiao Qin—Little Piano—live in the city of Wuhan with their parents. For decades, China's government had kept the country separated from the rest of the world. When their country's leader, Chairman Mao, dies, new opportunities begin to emerge. Da Qin and Xiao Qin soon learn that their childhood will be much different than the upbringing their parents experienced. 

Eight short stories—based on the author's own life—give readers a unique look at what it was like to grow up in China during this important time in history.

My Review:
This is an intriguing grouping of eight short stories depicting a unique part of Chinese history. Blending dreams, memories, family rituals, and Chinese folktales, these stories transport the reader to a time of radical change for the people of China. The book begins around the time of Mao Zedong's death. The people of China had been isolated and schooled strictly in the government's ideology and with his death, many changes began. The authors manage to be very respectful of the parents' beliefs and loyalty to Mao. The mother had benefited greatly from the government through medical care during her bout with polio. The stories show everything from a child's perspective so it is not surprising that the view of Mao Zedong is a positive one. The stories point to a hopeful future in spite of the difficulties of the time.

The stories are fascinating since they show everyday life of a young child experiencing an upheaval in her life. There are fears, disappointments and joys that most children can relate to in some way even if the setting and context may be unfamiliar to readers. 

The illustrations are beautiful and the yellowed paper/background adds to the feeling of the past. They add a rich layer to the stories. To see a sample, click here

This would be a great text to pair with Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Ji Jiang.

To find out more about the book, read the School Library Journal interview with illustrator Andrés Vera Martínez or listen to his Meet the Author segment on

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