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Six Words, Many Turtles, and Three Days in Hong Kong
     

Six Words, Many Turtles, and Three Days in Hong Kong

by Patricia McMahon, Susan Drinker (Illustrator)
 

Doing homework is not the way eight-year-old Tsz Yan wants to spend her weekend, but she must learn six new English words. Tsz Yan is a Chinese child living in Hong Kong, where she shares an apartment with her mother and father. With humor and insight, the author paints a portrait of daily life for an engaging, energetic child living in one of the most intriguing

Overview

Doing homework is not the way eight-year-old Tsz Yan wants to spend her weekend, but she must learn six new English words. Tsz Yan is a Chinese child living in Hong Kong, where she shares an apartment with her mother and father. With humor and insight, the author paints a portrait of daily life for an engaging, energetic child living in one of the most intriguing of all international cities. Hong Kong is in the midst of dramatic, historic change from British to Chinese ownership. The fabric of Tsz Yan's life may remain largely unchanged, yet she and her parents cannot help but be concerned about the transition. Stunning, vividly detailed photographs capture resplendent street scenes and the mountainous surroundings of Hong Kong as well as the quiet moments and joyful times of a young girl and her family.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A captivating child's-eye view of a complex society poised for big changes." Booklist, ALA

"A weekend in the life of a chinese girl in Hong Kong is the subject of this photoessay from McMahon, who does a good job of drawing universal parallels and regional distinctions." Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This timely if uneven photo-essay invites readers to spend a weekend in Hong Kong with Tsz Yan, an eight-year-old Chinese girl. Tsz Yan does homework, goes with her parents to a dim sum restaurant, visits relatives, is treated to a trip to a big amusement park, etc. The foreign setting comes through most immediately in Drinker's vivid photos, which range from informal snapshots of Tsz Yan, her family and friends to tempting views of markets and food stalls to aerial panoramas. McMahon (Summer Tunes: A Martha's Vineyard Vacation) sets an ambitious agenda: to show how Tsz Yan is not so different from American readers while demonstrating what is unique about her milieu. The text is organized around Tsz Yan's assignment to memorize six English words, with the author repeatedly (and sometimes awkwardly) working the words into the narrative: "Tsz Yan knows she is not HAPPY when she is HUNGRY." Efforts to situate the story within the changing political climate of Hong Kong are generally unsuccessful; for example, it's unlikely that the target audience will grasp the significance of Tsz Yan's parents' uncertainty whether or not "a Chinese person living in Hong Kong [will be] the same as a Chinese person living in China." The whole enterprise is just a little too long to sustain the reader's interest. Ages 7-12. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5--This attractive photo-essay opens with a double-page spread of Hong Kong in the early morning mist and closes with a shot of the city at sunset. Readers are introduced to eight-year-old Tsz Yan and her family. The "six words" of the title refer to the English writing homework that the girl works on throughout the story. The "many turtles" are what she thinks school children look like with their backpacks. The "three days" are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, thus giving readers a glimpse of the child's life at school and at home.The colorful and exciting photos are definitely the strength of the book, and are, for the most part, logical adjuncts to the text. Unfortunately, the lack of captions may cause confusion. For instance, many readers may mistake a wedding photo for a prom picture if they are not acquainted with the Chinese tradition of wearing red for weddings. The pronunciation guide does not give phonetic spellings for the words and is really not useful. Many parallels are drawn between Tsz Yan's experiences and those of a typical eight-year-old American youngster yet distinct differences are also shown. The title is interesting, the photos superb, yet the text seems lackluster in contrast.--Marilyn Fairbanks, East Junior High School, Brockton, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A weekend in the life of a Chinese girl in Hong Kong is the subject of this photo-essay from McMahon (Chi-Hoon, 1993), who does a good job of drawing universal parallels and regional distinctions.

Eight-year-old Tsz Yan's school day may seem orderly and rigorous, but familiar faces—Minnie Mouse, Garfield—make appearances, allowing US readers to identify immediately. The 1998 fusion with China looms, leading to Tsz Yan's sensible musings—"Will Hong Kong still be itself when it becomes part of something so big?" Then it is on to after-school daycare and homework—always homework—before her mother comes home from her day job and Dad returns from China, where he toils all week, for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are a buffet of Hong Kong pleasures: feeding bread to the turtles, a visit to the Ocean Park amusement complex, a ferry ride to Kowloon, a snack at McDonald's, a breakfast of dim sum, cousins watching Jackie Chan on television, family gatherings. Through it all, Tsz Yan saws away at her homework, mostly English words that she neatly ties in to the cultural stew of Hong Kong. The book is an excellent slice of living theater—with the text rolling along, the full- color photographs sharp, the colors and array of sights blinding, and the mood disarmingly matter-of-fact and authentic.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395686218
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
08/25/1997
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
9.33(w) x 10.31(h) x 0.48(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia McMahon is the author of several highly acclaimed photoessays for children, including ONE BELFAST BOY, praised by THE BULLETIN as "powerful and provocative," and SIX WORDS, MANY TURTLES, and THREE DAYS IN HONG KONG, described by Kirkus Reviews as "an excellent slice of living theater . . . disarmingly matter-of-fact and authentic." She has lived overseas and traveled extensively. Ms. McMahon lives in Houston with her husband and their two children, Conor and Claire.

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