Sunday, February 10, 2013
Little White Duck by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez
Little White Duck is a memoir of a childhood in China, created in graphic novel format by a wife and husband team, Na Liu and Andres Vera Martin. Martin's artwork captures a handful of Liu's recollections about the period when she was between the ages of four and seven. The first chapter -- 'A Sad, Sad Day' -- is about the death of Chairman Mao in 1976. Thousands of people gathered to mourn and Liu, who had not even known that she had a Grandpa Mao, remembers crying because everyone around her was so very sad.
The text is brief, but look at all the details in just these two illustrations: the fact that cleaning includes the common areas of the apartment; New Year decorations being hung; the red kerchief around Liu's neck; her little sister's paper toy lion; red money envelopes; and the way the lion-monster's head is supported by two people, one on the other's shoulders. The muted colour palette strikes the right nostalgic note. A brief glossary at the back translates the few Mandarin words, and there are even translations of Chinese characters. In the bottom illustration, for example, "the red banners around the doorways are poetry with wishes for good fortune, such as 'Everything you try to do will be successful' and 'Every year will be better and better.'" Nice!
Suitable for Grade 3 and up.
Readalike: Marzi by Marzena Sowa.