Gr 5-8-- Eighteen well-organized chapters detail daily lives of children in Changsha, a rather average Chinese city--this despite being the capital of Hunan province . Thomson's description of city life is supplemented byvignettes written in English by middle-school students in Changsha. Black-and-white photographs, mostly clear and also informative, reinforce Changsha's famed bleakness, yet give a good sense of place. The text is not without interest and is certainly well meaning, yet the author manages to undercut her own sensitivity at times. While readers are treated to an interesting chapter on calligraphy, they are also informed that Chinese is composed of ``chicken-scratch dots and strokes.'' Also, ``squashed-together small houses'' is insensitive and inaccurate as the accompanying photo depicts orderly architecture. The author's vocabulary misleads: rod-puppets are not marionettes; strapping or matting are not the same thing as padding on a bed. One photo shows two carpenters at work with the caption that they ``josh with passersby.'' There is no evidence of this in the photo, nor is ``josh'' likely to be understood by most of today's children. An excellent index and thoughtful epilogue do little to change the impression that, despite good points, this volume suffers from an insufficiency of good intentions. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Pub . Lib .