CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Paul Yee.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, l986.
139pp., paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-88862-909-5. cloth, $12.95. ISBN 0-88862-910-9. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Chinese Canadians-Juvenile fiction.
Uncles-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14

Reviewed by Esther Hutchinson.

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

Lillian Ho is a fourteen-year-old girl living with her family in Vancouver's Chinatown, in the year 1909. Her mother is overburdened with work and children; her father is frequently absent on mysterious business. When he fails to return from a trip, the family's circumstances deteriorate. Finally, Third Uncle threatens to send them back to China. He frightens Lillian and her sisters with unpleasant stories about China, and how girls are treated there. Her mother can see no other solution, so Lillian undertakes to get a job and to find her father.

After a number of adventures, Lillian does eventually better their circumstances, finding solutions to some of the problems in Chinese folklore. As she matures, she shifts from simply reacting to the other characters to understanding their motives. She also comes to accept her heritage.

This is an ambitious book, touching on prejudice, the loyalty of the Chinese to the country they left behind, the Chinese revolution, folklore, and healing. The author dedicates the story to his aunt, "whose stories and memories inspired this book." Paul Yee has published one previous book, Teach Me to Fly Skyfighter! and Other Stories ¹.

The book is printed in large clear type and is easy to read. The cover illustration, showing a menacing Third Uncle towering over a frightened Lillian, should catch the reader's attention. There are also three full-page pencil drawings of key scenes.

Although there is plenty of action and conversation, the flow of the story is rather uneven. Perhaps the author is not completely convincing writing in the first person as a young girl. Also, there are several convenient coincidences at crucial junctures. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile addition to the general collection or for further study in the classroom.

Esther Hutchinson, Spruce Grove, AB.

¹ Reviewed vol. Xll/2 March 1984, p. 67.

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