41. Shanghai Messenger by Andrea Cheng
Retell: Xiao Mei is invited by her uncle to visit China. At first she is reluctant to travel by herself and once she arrives she finds the new setting lonely and disorienting. She eventually adjusts and begins to appreciate her extended Chinese family.
Topics: Chinese, China, poetry, family, mixed-race, language barrier, traveling, homesickness
Units of Study: Character, Personal Narrative, Social Issues
Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs
Reading Skills: interpretation, inference, envisionment, making connections
Writing Skills: incoporating foreign languages, zooming in on small moments, including sensory details
My Thoughts: I love how this story is told as a series of free verse poems. I plan on reading this book aloud when I teach how writers zoom in on small moments. Each poem is a small moment from her trip. It can be a good mentor text for writers who want to write about a vacation and are tempted to write about the entire vacation. Cheng incorporates Chinese vocabulary throughout the story. She even includes a Chinese glossary with a pronunciation guide which will aid readers when they attempt to read it aloud. It’s also a good book to read when studying character change. In the beginning, Xiao Mei is afraid to go to China by herself and thinks she will never adjust to life in China. By the end she develops into a grown-up girl who is both completely American and completely Chinese.
Entry filed under: Female Authors, Picture Books. Tags: appreciations/no put-downs, character, China, Chinese, envisionment, family, foreign languages, homesickness, inference, interpretation, language barrier, making connections, mixed-race, personal narrative, poetry, sensory details, small moments, social issues, travel.