Gai See: What You See in Chinatown

Gai See: What You See in Chinatown

by Roseanne Thong, Choi Yangsook, Choi Yangsook, Rosanne Thong
     
 

Take a charming tour of Chinatown!

What in the world
could you possibly see
at an old
gai see,
just you and me
on a warm and easy,
slightly breezy
springtime Saturday morning?


In Cantonese, gai see means "street market," the lively place where vendors sell all their goods from open-air stalls, pushcarts, and stores…  See more details below

Overview

Take a charming tour of Chinatown!

What in the world
could you possibly see
at an old
gai see,
just you and me
on a warm and easy,
slightly breezy
springtime Saturday morning?


In Cantonese, gai see means "street market," the lively place where vendors sell all their goods from open-air stalls, pushcarts, and stores. Join a curious little boy as he shops at the market with his family in every season and discovers many special treasures. From noodles in the spring to dragon fruit in the summer, from chocolate coins in the fall to firecrackers for Chinese New Year in the winter, you never know what you might find during a magical stroll through Chinatown.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Though meant to be a picture book of items one would find in Chinatown, this really doubles as a lesson in Chinese culture. Follow a young boy on his venture to a "gai-see"—street market—each season and absorb the delightful objects he finds. His story begins on a warm, breezy spring morning as he spies noodles, songbirds and slippers. Each season brings new treats and treasures on display, even special ones for the most celebrated holiday of New Year. What is not included is the reason why each item is displayed or its significance to Chinese culture. This in no way detracts from this book; rather, it encourages readers to seek those answers for themselves beyond the brief glossary that follows the text. Bright colors on mostly-white backgrounds provide unobstructed and uncluttered depictions of the text, allowing for easy viewing and concentration. Classroom readers can also discuss and compare street markets with grocery stores or the places where items for their homes are purchased. They can also discuss the differences and similarities of the seasons, holidays and culture. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3 Through rhyming verse, this appealing picture book introduces the various objects found in a gai see or "street market" (Cantonese) that a boy and his family visit throughout the year. In spring, he and his mother eat noodles, see songbirds carried about in cages, and shop for shoes. In summer, he and his sister find tofu blocks and soybean milk; tanks of fresh fish; and fruit stands with mangoes, starfruit, dragon fruit, and lychees. In autumn, he shops with his grandma, finding incense, paper money, and sweets, and they enjoy an open-air meal of rice, fried egg, and crispy roast duck. In winter, he and his father purchase holiday supplies, and the entire family celebrates New Year's together. Choi's uncluttered, vibrant illustrations convey a sense of the market's lively charm. While the boy and his family are clearly Asian, the street scenes include shoppers of various races; this Chinatown is in an American city. As she did in previous works, Thong crafts an evocative introduction to aspects of Chinese culture through a child's perspective.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Bland, static and usually suspended against monochromatic backgrounds, Choi's uncrowded street scenes depict a four-season walk through a generic (though, to judge from the title, probably American) "gai see"-Cantonese for "street market"-devoid of any feeling of bustle or vitality. Thong's rhymed text doesn't exactly explode with life either, as her androgynous young narrator answers the repeated rhetorical question, "What in the world / could you possibly see / at an old gai see . . . " by focusing on a few distinctive foods and goods, from "oodles of noodles" and live seafood to "paper money / burned for prayer / to show ancestors / that we care." Ending with an abbreviated New Year celebration, plus a closing invitation to readers to chime in with observations of their own, this offers informational dribs and drabs, but neither the strong atmosphere of William Low's Chinatown (1997) nor the engaging personal voice of Kam Mak's My Chinatown (2002). (Picture book. 7-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810993372
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
08/01/2007
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.87(w) x 10.87(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Roseanne Thong is the award-winning author of books about the Asian experience. Two of them have earned a Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of the Year Award. She divides her time between Hong Kong and Southern California, where she always shops in Chinese markets.

Yangsook Choi is a highly acclaimed illustrator whose books have been nominated for the California Young Reader medal, acclaimed as Best of the Best by the Chicago Public Library, named as IRA Teachers' Choice books, and been selected by PBS's Reading Rainbow and the Junior Library Guild. She lives in New York City, where she loves to visit Chinatown.

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