Shanghai Messenger

By Kirkus Reviews

Half-Chinese Xiao Mei (May in English) is eleven, going alone from Ohio to visit her extended family in Shanghai. In vivid poems, almost iridescent in their clarity of feeling, May wonders if people in China will stare at her green-flecked eyes; sees what her great-grandfather carved in stone in Suzhou Gardens; buys a live duck for lunch in the marketplace. The fear of being so far from the familiar and the ache of a loving but very different set of relatives are exquisitely delineated no more so than in Young’s beautiful illustrations. Each page is laid out with borders and centerpieces with a red Chinese grillwork pattern in perfect geometry; while soft-edged brillantly colored vignettes of May learning t’ai chi, riding on a moped to take laundry to dry, playing catch with a child and a red ball, illuminate every page. Some images catch at the heart-Auntie unwrapping a wonton to tuck the last speck of pork in before cooking, or May back in Ohio missing the shouting farmers outside her window in Shanghai. Wonderfully evocative,