Cover image for My Mei Mei
Title:
My Mei Mei
ISBN:
9780399243394
Publication Information:
New York : Philomel Books, c2006.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 27 cm.
Reading Level:
AD 480 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
Summary:
Antonia gets her wish when her parents return to China to bring home a Mei Mei, or younger sister, for her.
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Summary

Summary

More than anything else in the world, Antonia wants a Mei Mei, little sister, to call her own. But when she and her mother and father fly all the way to China to get her little sister and Antonia finally meets her, she is not at all like Antonia imagined her: She can't walk. She can't talk. She just cries and steals attention. But is her Mei Mei all that bad? This charming personal story from Ed Young follows a little girl as she learns what being a big sister is all about, and discovers the real meaning of family.


Author Notes

Caldecott Medalist Ed Young is the illustrator of over eighty books for children, seventeen of which he has also written. Born in Tientsin, China in 1931, Ed Young grew up in Shanghai and later moved to Hong Kong. As a young man, he came to the United States on a student visa to study architecture but turned instead to art.

Young began his career as a commercial artist but found himself looking for something more expansive, expressive, and timeless. He discovered all this, and more, in children's books. Young's quest for challenge and growth are central in his role as illustrator.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Young has since taught at the Pratt Institute, Yale University, Naropa Institute, and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

In 1990, his book Lon Po Po was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He has also received two Caldecott Honors - for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice - and was twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to children's book authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

In addition to Ed Young's writing and illustration career, he is also a respected master of t'ai chi and has been teaching students for over 30 years.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Young (Beyond the Great Mountains) immortalizes the adoption of his and his wife's younger daughter in the pages of this touching tale. Narrated by Tonia, his elder daughter, the story initially unspools in somewhat of a disjointed verse with a childlike perspective ("In the dorm of a medical college, it was hot and wet. I was really excited; I drew pictures of our Mei Mei while we waited," says Tonia while they wait to meet the baby). As the story develops, so does Tonia, who comes to appreciate the love of her admiring little sister over time ("She made me feel big, as in my class I was small"). While the older sister's personal account is heartwarming, it is Young's illustrations that allow readers to better understand the growing bond between Tonia and Mei Mei. Soft, detailed watercolors depict Tonia's look of frustration when her new sister "took all the attention away from me" and Mei Mei's wind-blown pigtails as the toddler plays in the sandbox. These snapshots represent a united family and amount to a treasure trove of memories. Ages 4-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

(Primary) An author's note explains that the adoption story Young had originally planned to write became an adoption-sibling story when he and his wife brought home a second baby from China. Their first daughter, Antonia, narrates this tale of her own adoption and her later desire for a younger sister (Mei Mei in Chinese), a wish fulfilled but soon regretted, and the inevitable beginnings of a sisterly bond. Details about Chinese adoption, including the physical therapy the baby needs, add specificity but blend naturally into the book's more universal sibling story. The gouache, pastel, and collage illustrations contain realistic close-up portraits that suit this personal account. Also appropriate for Young's story of his family's blossoming and growth are the floral-patterned fabrics in the art: used as wallpaper-like backgrounds, they provide a homey feel; used as clothing, they create a further, tactile sense of realism. The illustrations early in the book of only-child Antonia playing big sister -- wiping her mom's nose with a tissue and pretending to change her dad's diaper -- help keep the story light, unsentimental, and geared to kids. While her Mei Mei steals all the attention and is not the playmate she expected, defending her against a toy-grubbing toddler makes Antonia feel good, and soon she's busy teaching her little sister all sorts of important things. A satisfying, amusing ending has the girls joining forces -- to ask their parents for another Mei Mei. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 2. Speaking in the voice of his eldest daughter, Antonia, Young tells his family's tender, personal adoption story. In simple, brief sentences, Antonia describes how her parents carried her home from China when she was a baby. As she grows older, she plays Jieh-Jieh (older sister) with her parents, pretending to blow their noses and care for them. Then the news come that Antonia will become be a real Jieh-Jieh, and the family flies to China to adopt Antonia's Mei Mei (little sister). Antonia makes clear her feelings about the new baby: She couldn't walk. She couldn't talk. She couldn't play. She took all the attention away from me. Then Mei Mei grows, and the girls' love and closeness is clear as they play and learn together. Young's vibrant collage illustrations joyously extend the spare, direct words. Pencil-and-paint portraits of the girls and their parents float against open backgrounds of patterned fabric and paper, which evoke a sense of cozy domesticity in their resemblance to wallpaper while the wild swirls of flowers, vines, and shapes echo the story's emotional intensity. Families that have adopted multiple children will welcome this title, and children of all backgrounds will easily connect with Young's sensitive portrayal of how siblings move through jealousy and resentment and create the small moments that hold them fiercely together. See the adjacent Read-alikes, Adoption Stories, for other recent picture books about adoption, --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2006 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-There are other picture books about traveling to China to adopt a child, but what sets this one apart is the relationship between the first adoptive daughter, Antonia, and her Mei Mei, or younger sister. Based on Young's experience, the text follows Antonia's story beginning with her arrival from China and her early years, to her request for a Mei Mei, to her disillusionment with her less-than-perfect sibling, to the girls' evolving closeness and love for each other. The narrative is told gracefully in Antonia's expressive, childlike voice: "When we returned, I found out that she was not what she ought to be. She couldn't walk. She couldn't talk. She couldn't play. She took all the attention away from me." Young's illustrations in gouache, pastel, and collage are irresistibly beautiful and filled with feeling. A significant page turn takes readers from Antonia's anticipation about their first meeting to Mei Mei's crying baby face filling an entire page. Most spreads achieve a serene unity through the use of varying wallpaper-like designs. A definitive composition shows the sisters lying together, legs intertwined, sharing a book, their form echoed against a gently curving floral background. A simple story of family bonds unerringly told.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Young's own daughters, successively adopted as babies in China, inspire this tender celebration of love flowering between sisters. Narrator Antonia plays at being "Jieh-Jieh"--big sister--with her parents. She wistfully befriends an invisible "Mei Mei"--a younger sister. When she is three, she and her parents fly "the friendly sky to China" to bring a baby Mei Mei home. Terse yet expressive text (rendered the more economical by voluptuous, full-bleed double spreads of collaged florals, pastel and gouache), conveys Antonia's conflicting emotions, from excitement to abandonment, protectiveness to pride. In a particularly lovely spread, Antonia confides, "I help her with reading and math so we can play more board games." Cocooned together among pillows and cats on a flowery ground evoking William Morris textiles, Mei Mei listens as Antonia reads what's clearly a copy of Leo Lionni's Little Blue and Little Yellow. With Antonia garbed in yellow and Mei Mei, bright blue, the composition perfectly evokes the girls' symbiosis. By the close, of course, exhibiting the collusive, boundary-pushing exuberance of young siblings, the girls sweetly ask, "Can we have another Mei Mei?" (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.