by Yin, Chris Soentpiet

When Ming arrives in San Francisco after the long boat journey from China, his older brothers waste no time warning him: "Chinese should not go outside Chinatown." But Ming risks doing just that, and when he meets Patrick, he knows the young Irish boy has a kind heart, and begins a remarkable friendship that brings their two very different communities together.


When Ming arrives in San Francisco after the long boat journey from China, his older brothers waste no time warning him: "Chinese should not go outside Chinatown." But Ming risks doing just that, and when he meets Patrick, he knows the young Irish boy has a kind heart, and begins a remarkable friendship that brings their two very different communities together.

Illustrated in Chris Soentpiet's richly detailed watercolor paintings, this long-awaited follow-up to the award-winning Coolies helps to tell the precious, rare story of the first Chinese immigrants and their pursuit of the American Dream.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brothers by Yin, illus. by Chris Soentpiet, continues the family story begun with Coolies (PW wrote, "In an impressive debut, Yin illumines a dark corner of American history"), which explored the mistreatment of the thousands of Chinese immigrants who helped build the transcontinental railroad, as Ming joins his older brother Shek. Glorious light-filled illustrations convey the bustle of San Francisco's Chinatown as well as the blossoming friendship between Ming and an Irish peer. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Young Ming, a Chinese immigrant, arrives in San Francisco in the days of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. He finds that one of his brothers has gone to work on the railroad, leaving him to work with another brother, Shek, in their grocery in Chinatown. Business is bad, so Shek finds other work, leaving Ming in charge, with a warning that it is dangerous for him, as a Chinese boy, to leave Chinatown. Lonely, Ming wanders out in disguise, making friends with a young boy named Patrick. As the boys spend time together and exchange language lessons, they learn that they have common immigrant experiences. With the help of Patrick and his family, Ming brings business success to the store. The satisfying end finds them "more than friends—�brothers." Soentpiet's watercolors, naturalistic and replete with informative details, create stage sets that occupy three quarters of the double-page spreads; just the merchandise that overcrowds the store demands careful examination. The visual sequences depict the growing friendship with honesty and respect. The street scenes add significantly to the understanding of the times. Notes add additional factual information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-When Ming arrives in San Francisco from China, he is met at the dock by his older brother Shek, a character first introduced in Coolies (Philomel, 2001). Disappointed that Brother Wong isn't there as well, Ming discovers that times aren't good, and that Wong is again working for the railroad. Shek is running a general store, but not many customers come to buy. Expected to mind the shop while Shek does extra labor on a nearby farm, Ming works hard, but is lonely and begins to explore beyond the Chinatown border. He discovers a school where he longs to go, but Shek explains that Chinese aren't welcome there. One day, Ming meets a friendly Irish boy who teaches him English, and together they devise a way to get more customers to the store. The story is heartwarming, but, unlike Coolies, both the story and the art paint a somewhat idealized picture. It is unlikely that the fortunes of the store could be so easily turned around just by hanging a sign saying that English is spoken there. Soentpiet's illustrations glow with light, and the faces of his characters register authentic emotions, but the settings are a little too perfect-no dirt, little clutter, store shelves bursting with food and other merchandise. Still, the sense of determination that drives the brothers to succeed in this alien environment makes this book a good addition to stories of the immigrant experience.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It's the year after the big fire in Chinatown when Ming crosses the ocean to join his brothers in San Francisco. His oldest brother runs a store, rebuilt after the fire, but customers are few as many Chinese are working on the Transcontinental Railroad. His brother leaves him to manage the store, telling him not to leave Chinatown, but it's lonely, so he jams his braid under his hat as a disguise and sets off to see the town. He meets a friend named Patrick who teaches him English and who finds the store fascinating. The friendship grows and, through Patrick's loving family, the Irish community patronizes the store, and it flourishes. An idealized story with realistic pictures bathed in exaggerated orange light, readers will be fascinated by Soentpiet's incredible details in the scenes from one street to another and inside the shop. A follow-up to Coolies (2001) by the same husband-and-wife author/illustrator team writing about an era that is seldom addressed for this age group. (author's note, resource list) (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.06(w) x 12.28(h) x 0.41(d)
580L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 8 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Great for group sharing, this tale will be welcomed by classes learning about history, immigration, and multiculturalism, as well as how to be a friend." —Booklist

Meet the Author

Yin lives in Queens, New York.
At the age of eight, I was adopted with my older sister from Korea to live with an American family in Hawaii. When I was 22 years old, I had the opportunity to visit my Korean brother and sisters for the first time since I was adopted . It was a happy reunion. (A book about my adoption will be released in due course.) More about my background can be found in several newspaper publications such as the Daily News and the New York Newsday.

I graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. I studied Advertising, Illustrations, Graphic Design and Art Education. But painting has always been my passion.

With encouragement and guidance from my good friend, author and illustrator, Ted Lewin, I took my portfolio along with some original paintings around New York City. The first ten publishers I visited did not have work for me until I stepped into the office of Lothrop, Lee & Shephard (acquired by: Harper-Collins Publishers). They have given me my first opportunity to illustrate and author my first children's picture book, Around Town.

My books reflect my interest in people, history and its culture. As with all my historical books, researching at the library plays an important role in illustrating the accuracy of the details I paint into each spread. After researching is complete, I hire models to play the parts of the main characters. Using models allows me to achieve a realistic and consistent look from page to page. Based on my research, I have to make the costumes if necessary. I also act as the model's hairdresser and makeup artist. Once I have taken the photographs, I'll use it as a tool to help me during the painting process. This order resembles much of my idol, whom I like to think of myself as an incarnation of the infamous Norman Rockwell.

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