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Paul Yee.

Toronto, James Lorimer, 1983.
133pp., paper, $12.95 (cloth), $5.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88862-645-2 (cloth), 0-88862-646-0 (paper).

Grades 4 and up.
Reviewed by Robert W. Bruinsma.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

What is it like to grow up as a Chinese-Canadian child in a community that has roots both in Asian and Anglo-Canadian traditions? In the four stories that comprise this collection, Paul Yee attempts to capture the conflicts inherent in multiculturalism from the points of view of a group of children who attend a multi-ethnic school in the Strathcona district of Vancouver.

Yee has a nice sense of the concerns and interests of nine to thirteen-year olds, both male and female and has peopled his stories with believable characters. The central theme of these stories is pride, that is, the establishment of legitimate feelings of self-worth in the midst of a rather hostile environment. In "Teach Me to Fly, Skyfighter!", Sharon Fong learns to respect and prize her Chinese roots. In "Who Set the Fire?", Samson Wong learns that a poor white girl also has her pride and dignity, while in "Never Be Afraid", John Chin comes to realize that there is more to being accepted than being tough. Finally, in the last story, "Strathcona Soccer Stars", the boys learn that girls are not inherently inferior to them in sports.

I enjoyed the stories and believe that the young people towards whom this book is targeted will too, but, in spite of their positive features, the stories have one major drawback: they do not stand on their own merits as literature but serve rather as vehicles for the promotion of multiculturalism. That may be a laudable purpose but it does impart a certain didactic, almost moralistic, flavour to the writing. The inclusion of an afterword on the history of Vancouver's Chinatown and Strathcona districts reinforces the rather pedagogic feel to the book. In spite of this criticism, the stories may prove to be of interest particularly to children who live and go to school in communities similar to those described.

The book is modestly illustrated and a teacher's guide is available from the publisher. Teach Me to Fly, Skyfighter! is part of the Adventure in Canada series.

Robert W. Bruinsma, King's College, Edmonton, AB.
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