Shanghai Messenger

By Booklist

In many of today’s immigration stories, the break with the Old Country is not as final as it used to be, and young people travel back and forth across borders and generations to visit extended family and explore their roots. In this picture book for older children, 11-year-old Xiao Mei, the child of an American father and a Chinese mother, is persuaded by Grandma Nai Nai in America to take up the invitation from Uncle Hai Tao to spend the summer in Shanghai. Cheng’s free-verse story, illustrated with Young’s small, expressive line-and-watercolor pictures, shows the child’s initial doubts, the plane journey and the arrival, and the welcoming young cousins and adults. Whether she is making wontons, doing tai chi in the park, helping her cousin buy a computer, or singing the songs from The Lion King in English and Chinese, she discovers her connections with a rich, exciting world. A glossary and a pronunciation guide will help readers pronounce the Mandarin names and words.