Nim and the War Effort

( 1 )

Overview

"Details place the affecting story in a real, not idealized, America." —Kirkus Reviews

"It’s the last day of the newspaper drive and Nim, a Chinese-American girl in San Francisco during World War II, is determined to win. Her nearest rival has cheated. Undaunted, she leaves Chinatown and walks up Nob Hill after school, determined to find more scrap newspaper. Nim’s sweet seriousness and ingenuity are captured in the text and in the luminous, grave illustrations." —The New York ...

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Overview

"Details place the affecting story in a real, not idealized, America." —Kirkus Reviews

"It’s the last day of the newspaper drive and Nim, a Chinese-American girl in San Francisco during World War II, is determined to win. Her nearest rival has cheated. Undaunted, she leaves Chinatown and walks up Nob Hill after school, determined to find more scrap newspaper. Nim’s sweet seriousness and ingenuity are captured in the text and in the luminous, grave illustrations." —The New York Times Book Review

"Based on the author’s childhood memories, Nim’s story celebrates the patriotism of Asian family members in embracing their new home and country and their efforts to maintain their cultural traditions. A fine addition." — School Library Journal

 

Nim and the War Effort is a 1997 New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.

In her determination to prove that an American can win the contest for the war effort, Nim does something which leaves her Chinese grandfather both bewildered and proud.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nim, the protagonist in this sweetly nostalgic trip to San Francisco's Chinatown of 1943, wants desperately to bring in the most newspapers for her school's paper drive-especially after a classmate takes papers that were meant for her. Her eagerness to help in the war effort (and win the contest) vie with her obedience to her Grandfather, as she riskily leaves the neighborhood to collect more papers. But her determination pays off in winning both the contest and the respect of her Grandfather for her patriotism. Lee and Choy, each making a publishing debut, are paired with enormous success: their work has a clear symbiosis. Choi paints with a soothing clarity of line and a rich palette infused with yellow, "aging" undertones. The seasoned visuals enhance Lee's text, which, while lengthy for the picture-book format, offers thought-provoking insights into Chinese American family life and the stresses of having an Asian heritage during the war with Japan. Ages 6-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Donna Brumby
Choi's simple portrait of Nim's grandfather pinning small, crossed flags of China and the US onto Nim's blouse poignantly sets the stage. Readers are transported to San Francisco's Chinatown during World War II. Nim's efforts to show her patriotism by winning the school paper drive is a story that will be appreciated by readers older than the usual audience for picture books. Also, the family relationships, especially the role of women, may necessitate some discussion and clarification for today's young readers. This book will be a useful resource for studying World War II, immigration, multiculturalism, fair play, and jealousy.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
An American will win the contest ...and it will be Nim, a Chinese-American girl growing up in San Francisco's Chinatown during World War II. Determined to win first prize in her school's paper drive, Nim must deal with her family's belief in honor and shame and with Garland Stephenson, a nasty, bigoted boy who steals her newspapers. Milly Lee has written a rich story based on an incident from her own childhood. Nim's clever solution to her problem is set against her family's high standards of behavior. When Nim's strict grandfather bestows his pin with the crossed American and Chinese flags on her, we feel their pride in being dual citizens and appreciate her patriotism. Nim is irresistible.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4Nim, a young Chinese-American girl, lives with her multigenerational family in San Francisco's Chinatown. World War II is ongoing, and she is absorbed in the last day of a competition to gather more newspapers for her school's paper drive than Garland Stephenson, the class bully. Taking her red wagon into the ritzy Nob Hill area for a last search for newsprint, Nim discovers a treasure trove of collected papers, finds a way to transport them to school, and wins the contest. The plot is well structured; the warm affection and unquestioned respect for authority in Nim's home lend even more appeal. Scenes from the family's daily life are effectively described in the narrative and illustrated in the soft contours and muted earth tones of the full-page paintings. Grandfather's morning Tai Chi practice, Grandmother's bound feet, the polite rituals of the family meal, and the scheduled lessons at Nim's late-day Chinese school all take readers into life in Chinatown in the mid-20th century. Based on the author's childhood memories, Nim's story celebrates the patriotism of Asian family members in embracing their new home and country and their efforts to maintain their cultural traditions. A fine addition.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
The recycling of paper is not new, nor is racism. This book explores both in the historical context of San Francisco's Chinatown during WW II.

Nim is competing in a school newspaper drive to help the war effort. In her free time she scouts out the neighborhood for more paper, red wagon in tow, and runs into her closest competitor, Garland Stephenson. He's not above stealing a pile of papers left for Nim by her aunt, taking new papers from a vendor, or ridiculing Nim by saying that the winner of the competition will be an American, and "not some Chinese smarty-pants." Nim almost gets the last laugh when she discovers a motherlode of newspapers in a garage in Nob Hill, and calls the police to deliver them to her school. However, her discovery makes her late getting home, and she is reprimanded by her grandfather. Nim's close relationship and respect for her grandfather temper her pride in her success. The muted colors of the illustrations and the unhurried beginning create an intimate, if slow-moving, story. What separates this story from simple nostalgia is Lee's close recollection of details—the scarcity of newspaper during the war years, or the flag pin worn by Chinese-Americans (so they would not be identified as "the enemy"—the Japanese). All these details place the affecting story in a real, not idealized, America.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374455064
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 4/1/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 534,137
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.58 (w) x 10.75 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Milly Lee grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown. She is a retired school librarian and lives in Sonoma County, California.

Yangsook Choi grew up in Korea and holds an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where she now lives.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001

    A wonderful book.

    The author of this book came to speak at my daughter's school, so we dutifully got a copy. WOW! What a lovely book--full of cultural and period detail, yet totall accessible and engrossing for my 6 1/2 year old. Definitely a winner for kids 1st through 5th grad who still enjoy reading a beautifully written and illustrated book. PS It is definitely aimed at that age group--it's easily twice as long as the typical picture book. But worth it!

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