My Mei Mei

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More than anything else in the world, Antonia wants a Mei Mei, little sister, to call her own. But when she and her mother and father fly all the way to China to get her little sister and Antonia finally meets her, she is not at all like Antonia imagined her: She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She just cries and steals attention. But is her Mei Mei all that bad? This charming personal story from Ed Young follows a little girl as she learns what being a big sister is all about, and discovers the real meaning of ...

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Overview

More than anything else in the world, Antonia wants a Mei Mei, little sister, to call her own. But when she and her mother and father fly all the way to China to get her little sister and Antonia finally meets her, she is not at all like Antonia imagined her: She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She just cries and steals attention. But is her Mei Mei all that bad? This charming personal story from Ed Young follows a little girl as she learns what being a big sister is all about, and discovers the real meaning of family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Young (Beyond the Great Mountains) immortalizes the adoption of his and his wife's younger daughter in the pages of this touching tale. Narrated by Tonia, his elder daughter, the story initially unspools in somewhat of a disjointed verse with a childlike perspective ("In the dorm of a medical college, it was hot and wet. I was really excited; I drew pictures of our Mei Mei while we waited," says Tonia while they wait to meet the baby). As the story develops, so does Tonia, who comes to appreciate the love of her admiring little sister over time ("She made me feel big, as in my class I was small"). While the older sister's personal account is heartwarming, it is Young's illustrations that allow readers to better understand the growing bond between Tonia and Mei Mei. Soft, detailed watercolors depict Tonia's look of frustration when her new sister "took all the attention away from me" and Mei Mei's wind-blown pigtails as the toddler plays in the sandbox. These snapshots represent a united family and amount to a treasure trove of memories. Ages 4-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Caldecott Medalist Young shares a story deeply personal and yet universal in My Mei Mei. Adopted as an infant from China, the first-person narrator (Young's oldest daughter Antonia) yearns for a little sister, a "Mei Mei" in her native language. When her wish is realized through a second adoption from China, the girl expresses her ambivalence: The baby "took all the attention away from me. I felt left out." But as they grow, the sisters share treats, stick up for one another, play Mommy and Baby Cat, read together—and present a united front to their parents in their request at the end for "another Mei Mei." Young brings tenderness and humor to this lyrical exploration of the sibling bond, further enhanced by radiant gouache-and-collage illustrations.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-There are other picture books about traveling to China to adopt a child, but what sets this one apart is the relationship between the first adoptive daughter, Antonia, and her Mei Mei, or younger sister. Based on Young's experience, the text follows Antonia's story beginning with her arrival from China and her early years, to her request for a Mei Mei, to her disillusionment with her less-than-perfect sibling, to the girls' evolving closeness and love for each other. The narrative is told gracefully in Antonia's expressive, childlike voice: "When we returned, I found out that she was not what she ought to be. She couldn't walk. She couldn't talk. She couldn't play. She took all the attention away from me." Young's illustrations in gouache, pastel, and collage are irresistibly beautiful and filled with feeling. A significant page turn takes readers from Antonia's anticipation about their first meeting to Mei Mei's crying baby face filling an entire page. Most spreads achieve a serene unity through the use of varying wallpaper-like designs. A definitive composition shows the sisters lying together, legs intertwined, sharing a book, their form echoed against a gently curving floral background. A simple story of family bonds unerringly told.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Young's own daughters, successively adopted as babies in China, inspire this tender celebration of love flowering between sisters. Narrator Antonia plays at being "Jieh-Jieh"-big sister-with her parents. She wistfully befriends an invisible "Mei Mei"-a younger sister. When she is three, she and her parents fly "the friendly sky to China" to bring a baby Mei Mei home. Terse yet expressive text (rendered the more economical by voluptuous, full-bleed double spreads of collaged florals, pastel and gouache), conveys Antonia's conflicting emotions, from excitement to abandonment, protectiveness to pride. In a particularly lovely spread, Antonia confides, "I help her with reading and math so we can play more board games." Cocooned together among pillows and cats on a flowery ground evoking William Morris textiles, Mei Mei listens as Antonia reads what's clearly a copy of Leo Lionni's Little Blue and Little Yellow. With Antonia garbed in yellow and Mei Mei, bright blue, the composition perfectly evokes the girls' symbiosis. By the close, of course, exhibiting the collusive, boundary-pushing exuberance of young siblings, the girls sweetly ask, "Can we have another Mei Mei?" (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399243394
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/16/2006
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 years
  • Product dimensions: 10.42 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Caldecott medalist Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, and brought up in Shanghai. He cites the philosophy of Chinese painting as an inspiration for much of his work. "A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words," he explains; "they are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe."

Mr. Young has been illustrating children's books for more than twenty years and has won many awards. He received the 1990 Caldecott Medal for his book Lon Po Po, and his much-lauded collaboration with anthologist Nancy Larrick, Cats Are Cats, was named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 1988 by The New York Times.

Mr. Young studied at the University of Illinois, the Art Center of Los Angeles, and Pratt Institute in New York City. He and his family live in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

copyright 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Caldecott medalist Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, and brought up in Shanghai. He cites the philosophy of Chinese painting as an inspiration for much of his work. "A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words," he explains; "they are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe."

Mr. Young has been illustrating children's books for more than twenty years and has won many awards. He received the 1990 Caldecott Medal for his book Lon Po Po, and his much-lauded collaboration with anthologist Nancy Larrick, Cats Are Cats, was named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 1988 by The New York Times.

Mr. Young studied at the University of Illinois, the Art Center of Los Angeles, and Pratt Institute in New York City. He and his family live in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

copyright 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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