Goldfish and Chrysanthemums

Overview

Young Nancy is helping Ni Ni (Grandma) in the kitchen when a letter arrives with bad news — her childhood home in China, with its beautiful garden pond filled with fish and ringed with chrysanthemums, is being torn down. Later that day, at the summer fair, Nancy spots a ball-tossing game, Win a Goldfish! Aiming carefully, she wins one, and then two. Now the question is how to use them to make Ni Ni feel better. Andrea Cheng's sensitive text and Michelle Chang's lovely illustrations show the enduring bonds that ...
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Overview

Young Nancy is helping Ni Ni (Grandma) in the kitchen when a letter arrives with bad news — her childhood home in China, with its beautiful garden pond filled with fish and ringed with chrysanthemums, is being torn down. Later that day, at the summer fair, Nancy spots a ball-tossing game, Win a Goldfish! Aiming carefully, she wins one, and then two. Now the question is how to use them to make Ni Ni feel better. Andrea Cheng's sensitive text and Michelle Chang's lovely illustrations show the enduring bonds that can exist across cultures and generations.

A Chinese American girl puts her goldfish into a fish pond that she creates and borders with chrysanthemums in order to remind her grandmother of the fish pond she had back in China.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cheng returns for another intergenerational tale after her tender Grandfather Counts. In spare, evocative prose she again explores the relationship between a Chinese-born grandparent and a westernized granddaughter. This time, however, she focuses less on forging a relationship than on nurturing it with thoughtfulness. Nancy's grandmother Ni Ni receives a sad letter from China: "Brother says the city needs space for apartment building, so they tear down our father's old house in Suzhou"; Ni Ni's beloved goldfish pond and garden are also destroyed. After winning two goldfish at a fair, Nancy asks her grandmother more about the fish pond of her childhood and discovers it was surrounded by chrysanthemums. Debut artist Chang charts Nancy's progress as she creates, with the help of a gardener neighbor, a miniature pond in the backyard for the fish, complete with chrysanthemums, a stone path and bench. Moved to tears, Ni Ni takes photographs of "Ba Ba's Garden in America" to send to her brother. While the palette of the oil paintings is suffused with warm shades of chrysanthemum-like reds, yellows and oranges, the emotional temperature remains surprisingly cool. Stylized portraits sit uncomfortably within realistic backdrops, resulting in stagy characters with almost mannequin-like faces. The posed photographs in a final spread make the most successful compositions; here the close-up of Ni Ni smelling a mum and united with her grandchildren communicate the book's uplifting theme of the importance of familial ties and continuity. Ages 4-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-In this warm story of intergenerational love, a girl re-creates a piece of her grandmother's childhood home in China. Nancy lives in a brownstone with her older brother, their parents, and Ni Ni, the youngsters' grandmother. The woman is sad to learn that her father's house in Suzhou, with its beautiful fishpond surrounded by chrysanthemums, is to be torn down for an apartment building. When Nancy wins two goldfish at a street fair, she decides to build a backyard fishpond. With the help of a kindly neighbor and her brother, she lays out a stone path, sets down an old picnic bench, plants flowers, and surprises Ni Ni. This portrait of a caring family resonates with scenes of sharing and togetherness. The rich golds, greens, and browns of the oil paintings add to the spirit of warmth and security. Use this book in multicultural and family story programs.-Susan Pine, New York Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nancy and Greg's Ni Ni (Grandmother) gets a letter from her brother, who still lives in China. The city of Suzhou is tearing down their father's house and garden to make way for apartment buildings. Ni Ni is understandably distraught, and Nancy wants to cheer her up. After a trip to the summer fair to search for ideas, Nancy decides to build a miniature goldfish pond in the backyard, complete with the yellow flowers Ni Ni remembers from her father's garden. With help from a neighbor and brother Greg, Nancy completes her surprise. They take pictures to send to China, and Ni Ni finds a special way to say thank you. Cheng's (Anna the Bookbinder, p. 302, etc.) story of intergenerational connection is a sweet one. Ni Ni speaks just haltingly enough to let readers know English is not her first language, and Nancy only completes her small fishpond with an adult's help. First time illustrator Chang's art is less spot-on. Ni Ni often appears out of proportion. The goldfish on the cover do not match those in the story, and the flowers never resemble the chrysanthemums of the title. The cover has an almost golden glow to it that is absent in the grayish interior illustrations. The story might have been better served with pictures rendered in a lighter medium than oils, but this is still a good choice for older storytime audiences or collections in need of culturally different stories. (Picture book. 4-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584300571
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/10/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.62 (w) x 10.68 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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