[Nonfiction Wednesday] Positive Remembrances of Life in China in “Little White Duck”

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, as well as reading challenges that we have pledged to join this year.

We have just launched our new reading theme for September – October: Crazy for Comics! Graphic Novel Galore!

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Little White Duck: A Childhood in China

Written by: Na Liu Illustrated by: Andres Vera Martinez
Published byGraphic Universe, 2012
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

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As the title indicates, this is a compilation of specific episodes from Na Liu’s childhood in China as illustrated by her husband, award-winning cartoonist Andres Vera Martinez. The entire graphic novel is divided into nine chapters including the Introduction (Ni Hao!) where Liu introduces herself:

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Unlike Mao and Mewhich provided a bleak description of what life was like under Chairman Mao’s ruling, Little White Duck opens with the death of “Grandfather Mao” – who surprisingly was depicted here with such loving gratitude.

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Liu shared how her parents lives have been considerably improved through Mao’s ruling – again, a stark contrast to other stories I read previously (see here for my interview with Ying Chang Compestine, author of Revolution is not a Dinner Party). While there are still stories of poverty and a depiction of how vastly different Liu’s father’s family is like in the rural areas, making Liu grieve for her little white duck,

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this is a largely positive portrayal of a life in transition, a story of hope and triumph, and a nostalgic look back at the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Click here for a more detailed NY Times Review of this graphic novel.

I would invite teachers to pair this book with another graphic novel memoir Mao and Me by Chen Jiang Hong.

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Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of 2012; SLJ Best Children’s Books 2012, Fiction; Horn Book Fanfare 2012, Fiction; 2012 Cybils Award Finalist, Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

#AWBRead2015 Update: 86 (35)

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#nfpb2015 Challenge Update: 57 (25)

  1. I love when historical fiction uses the GN format. It really makes it accessible to kids who are having a hard time understanding the time period.

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  2. I look for memoirs in the GN format because I do a memoir unit in the spring when I introduce my 5th graders to memoirs in a variety of formats, so I will put this one on my list!

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  3. Interesting that there is a memoir that is positive, Myra. I will try to find this. It certainly is fun that it’s a graphic novel; perhaps her illustrator-husband’s influence?

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  4. Another GN I’ve been meaning to read. Thanks for reminding me of it.

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  5. This one is on my TBR, but it’d gotten pushed down. I need to move it back up!

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