________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 18 . . . . April 27, 2007


Once Upon a Full Moon.

Elizabeth Quan.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2007.
48 pp., cloth, $24.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-813-2.

Subject Headings:
Quan, Elizabeth, 1921- Travel-China-Juvenile literature.
China-Description and travel-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Carolyn Crippen.

*** ½ /4

This unique storybook about a journey to grandmother's house is a true story told through the eyes of child in the 1920s who travels to China with her parents and brothers and sisters to visit their paternal grandmother, someone the children have never met. The author/illustrator creates a momentum through the pages of the book with soft, action filled pictures and expressive passages that carry the reader along through the journey, such as on the train, on board the two-tiered ferry boat, riding in the rickshaw, always moving along on the journey under the light of the moon.

     "Through the window by my bed, the man in the moon beamed a big smile. His light shone as I tossed and turned, thinking of the exciting news. China! Grandmother! My little world was beginning to spin" (p. 7).

     Marvelous vocabulary and descriptive language are introduced to young readers, i.e., we wobbled down the gangway on our sea legs; a blunt bob with bangs; old fire winter-melon soup with tofu; and the wailing Chinese strings punctuated with drums and cymbals.
internal art

     Preparation for the trip included packing new clothes into assorted suitcases and duffel bags, plus everyone getting a haircut, courtesy of father. Belongings were lettered with the initials L.K. for Lee King, the name given to father when he arrived in Canada. We are told that it should actually be King Lee; in China, the family name comes first. The family travels by train from Toronto across Canada and has a brief stop in Winnipeg. The train crosses the prairies and then approaches the mountains. They cross the mountains to the Pacific Coast. Here, the two older children go to the Chinese opera with their father.

     The story details many sights along the way: the ship's bunks, whales in the ocean, arriving in Yokohama, Japan, the bustling city of Victoria, Hong Kong, and the railway station in Dun Ngan Lai, China and the "final walk" to grandmother's home.

     Once Upon a Full Moon is a journey of discovery for the reader and the child in the story.  We learn about father and his background and how he got to Canada. We learn about the Chinese culture. We are introduced to Japan and Hong Kong and to our own country's geography. The child storyteller discovers that special place called "home" in the arms of her grandmother.

     Once Upon a Full Moon could be read aloud to the class, perhaps over several days. It provides rich fodder for class discussion and sensitivity toward immigrants. Independent readers could use the book for social studies research. But, best of all, the pages carry you along with never a dull minute!

Highly Recommended.

Carolyn Crippen is the Assistant Dean of the Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education (PBDE) at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.