Hannah Is My Name

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Overview

With Chinese-influenced paintings in jewel-like colors, Belle Yang tells an immigration tale that reflects one of the many facets of the American dream.

Hannah is my name in this new country. It doesn't sound at all like my
Chinese name, Na-Li, which means beautiful.

It's a long way from Taiwan to San Francisco, but Hannah's family has made the journey because they want to make America their home. Here in ...

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Overview

With Chinese-influenced paintings in jewel-like colors, Belle Yang tells an immigration tale that reflects one of the many facets of the American dream.

Hannah is my name in this new country. It doesn't sound at all like my
Chinese name, Na-Li, which means beautiful.

It's a long way from Taiwan to San Francisco, but Hannah's family has made the journey because they want to make America their home. Here in America, Baba tells his daughter, people are free to say what they think, and children can grow up to be whatever they choose. And so Hannah takes a new name, begins a new school, learns a new language, and starts to adjust to a new way of life. Meanwhile, they all wait — and hope — for the arrival of the green cards that will assure they are finally home to stay.

A young Chinese girl and her parents emigrate to the United States and try their best to assimilate into their San Francisco neighborhood while anxiously awaiting the arrival of their green cards.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
For Na-Li, America is a place of a new language, new foods, new customs, and even a new name, Hannah. With charm and spunk the little girl narrates her family's story from their arrival in America through the long wait for the coveted green card. In a cramped apartment they wait, while a friendly employer ignores Baba's legal status and offers him a janitorial job. While they wait, Hannah shops at Woolworth's, learns to read Curious George, hears in school about a man named Martin Luther King who wanted all people to be treated kindly, and walks with her mother to Chinatown where every shop window reminds her of home. Always they must be watchful for the officials who may deport them like her friend Janie's family. At last the green cards arrive and Hannah and her family do not have to "make ourselves small . . . America is our home." Countless immigrant children will see themselves in Hannah's story. The stylized drawings have a childlike charm and are colored in vivid hues. The endpapers of rural China give way to the skyline of San Francisco and the flow is seamless. Beneath Hannah's voice which is sweet and innocent is a plucky little girl who speaks with pride for immigrant children everywhere. This would be an ideal read-aloud in so many of our classrooms that now resemble mini United Nations. 2004, Candlewick, Ages 6 to 10.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A girl describes her family's journey from Taiwan to the United States in 1967, explaining that she must give up her Chinese name, Na-Li, and adjust to her unfamiliar American name. Hannah relates how she and her parents try to adapt to a new way of life, observing the strange customs that they encounter and detailing the obstacles that they all must face. They immediately apply for green cards, a process that demands an interminable wait. Yang draws a parallel between Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of freedom and Hannah's family's quest for equal opportunity, but the narrative deals primarily with Mama and Baba's efforts to secure legal status and work. The significance of the green card, what immigrants must do to find employment, and the portrayal of the immigrant community's support for newcomers are all neatly presented. The setting-San Francisco with its skyline, bridges, hilly streets, and Chinatown-as well as elements of Chinese culture are nicely evoked in both the text and artwork. Engaging gouache illustrations comprised of vivid colors, dynamic perspectives, and stylized figures in two-dimensional views reflect the influence of the block print. Pair this autobiographical tale with Helen Recorvits's My Name Is Yoon (Farrar, 2003), a book that touches on similar themes about being a stranger in a strange land.-Marian Creamer, Children's Literature Alive, Portland, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This thoughtful offering is based on Yang's own immigration story, and is told from the perspective of seven-year-old Hannah, who moves with her mother and father from Taiwan to San Francisco. The story is richly detailed, and effectively conveys what it's like to come to a new country from a faraway place and adjust to life in unfamiliar surroundings. The child changes her name (they choose Hannah, because it's deemed easy to learn) and the family waits for the green cards that will ensure their future in America. The tension is palpable. Yang's colorful gouache illustrations effectively convey this mix of excitement and anxiety. Despite a jarring reference to Martin Luther King Jr. that places the otherwise contemporary-sounding tale in the 1960s, Yang's offering is winner-a spot-on depiction of the immigrant experience in America. (Picture book. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763622237
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.14 (w) x 10.99 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Belle Yang was born in 1960 in Taiwan and came to the United States with her parents at the age of seven. She has studied at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design and the Beijing Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting. She has had solo museum shows and has written and illustrated two highly praised adult books and a picture book. She says, "HANNAH IS MY NAME is based on our first years in San Francisco. I missed my old friends and teacher, but it was not a miserable yearning. It was a great privilege to come to the United States, and we didn't look back."

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