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Shanghai Messenger
Andrea Cheng
Drawings by Ed Young
Picture Book
Ages 8 to 12
Lee and Low Books, 2005, 0-58430-238-0
  Now that she is eleven Xiao Mei is old enough to travel to her grandmother’s homeland, China. Xiao Mei’s uncle has invited her to visit Shanghai and it promises to be a very exciting and interesting journey. And yet Xiao Mei is not sure that she wants to go. It is only when her grandmother Nai Nai begins to talk about the relatives who live there that Xiao Mei decides that she will go after all. She knows in her heart that this journey is important for Nai Nai and that she will have to be Nai Nai’s Shangai messenger.
  Xiao Mei feels very homesick at first as she tries to get used to all the strange relatives that she has never met before. There are so many of them and they often speak in Chinese, a language that Xiao Mei does not understand. As the days pass Xiao Mei begins to feel more comfortable. She tries many new things and settles into the rhythms of her family’s life. She meets other Chinese children, she goes on little excursions, and she is able to imagine what Nai Nai’s life must have been like in China all those years ago.
  Written in a beautiful lyrical style, the author breaks up this charming story into little pieces, each section giving the reader a perfect picture of a place or an event. The voices of the characters come through clearly, speaking in their broken English their words as warm with the love that they feel for Xiao Mei. Readers will be left with a fascinating picture of Chinese family life and they will appreciate the special connection that Xiao Mei’s American family has with her Chinese one.
  Ed Young’s soft multimedia pictures are found throughout the book giving the story that perfect touch of color and intimacy.


Shanghai Messenger


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