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Laura Langston
Illustrated by Robert Amos
Victoria, Orca Book Publishers, 1994. 32pp,
laminated boards, $14.95, ISBN 1-55143-010-X. CIP

Subject Headings:
Chinatown(Victoria, B.C.)-Fiction.
Chinese Canadians-Fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8

Reviewed by Marion Scott

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

This is a quiet story about a Caucasian boy's love for his Chinatown home and his unhappiness over an upcoming move to a new neighbourhood. Michael's acceptance of the situation comes largely through the counsel of his Chinese friend, Grandpa Doc, who tells him, "There is no such thing as far away when you carry a place with you. In here." (Your heart.) And he promises to bring Michael back to Chinatown for frequent visits.

Langston, a first-time children's author has developed the story from her own love for and appreciation of Vancouver's Chinatown--begun when she herself was a child. The style is low key, with mood taking precedence over action. The text flows nicely, it is not too long, and the choice of detail and description is well suited to children's interests.

Robert Amos, a water-colour artist noted for his streetscapes of Victoria, B.C., likewise makes his début in children's books. Page-and-a-half spreads focusing on the street life nicely frame the text. Amos captures the detail and colour of the Chinatown scene well, but his figure drawing is weaker, and facial expressions tend to be somewhat bland and awkward.

The result is a well-written appreciation of Chinatown and a satisfying, reassuring treatment of the theme of leaving loved places and loved ones. It is not an essential purchase but is worthy of consideration an should find a readership in both school and public libraries.


Marion Scott is a children's librarian with the Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario

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