Illustrated by: Young Chen
Published by: Boyds Mills Press
Ages: 6 and up
Theme: multicultural, adoption, family
Opening Lines: When Shu-Li was born, her mother and father cried. They wrapped her in a soft red blanket for luck and took her into town. They laid her tenderly on the ground beneath a bridge and left her there. On the red blanket, they pinned a note; This is our Shu-Li. Please take care of her. No room for girls.
Synopsis: Shu-Li’s parents were saddened when she was born and as they wanted a boy. In China they can have only one child. They left her in a public place so she could be found and looked after. She is taken to an orphanage and cared for. Over in America a family considers adopting a child from China and the mother flies to China to bring home the little girl. Although she worries about how the little girl will fit in, it is soon apparent that she is now cared for in a loving family environment. Eventually, one day she will tell the little girl, now named Joy, about the red blanket and where she came from, and how she came to live in America.
Why I like this: A beautifully written story of adoption, tenderly told in very few sentences across two page spreads of colourful paintings. While the story starts off sad, the detailed expressions by the illustrator Young Chen, cleverly show the delight, genuine love, and tenderness toward Joy, and the little girl’s dimpled laughter reflecting her happiness. It’s a sweet story based on fact with an author’s note on the last page, neatly gives the background on why this is a common theme still happening today. Author, Marion Coste has carefully chosen her words to tell the story combining multi-culture and adoption themes. Read at home or in school this would certainly be educational, opening the door for children to ask questions and learn about life in other countries.
Resources/Findings: The authors website .. http://marioncoste.com/About_Me.html
On Yong Chen’s website are beautiful watercolours of some of the illustrations for this book…. http://www.yongchen.com/findingjoy.htm
Kids learning about different cultures…. http://simplekids.net/8-ways-to-help-your-children-respect-other-cultures/
Adoptive Family Circles is full of blogs and websites learning about adoption, families…etc.. http://www.adoptivefamiliescircle.com/blogs/category_archives/category/multicultural_adoption/
For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.
A good book for many families, who have adopted children here in the US and abroad.
Yes, Stacy. As I was researching a bit about this story I found many other stories. Very interesting. This would be helpful and allow for questions.
Great pick, Diane. Teaches kids about the rules in China too.
Yes I liked the multicultural theme and has many aspects of which kids could learn. Thanks Catherine.
It is so powerful when kids can recognize themselves in books. Adoptees and their families will be glad for this gem.
It would be very helpful to help understand, give reasons and understanding too. Glad you like it.
Tough language to start a picture book with. Thanks for sharing the book. (I’m guessing the baby was named Joy?)
Thank you Wendy. Yes she was named Joy. She brought much joy to this particular family. It’s a tough topic, but kids need to know and learn.
What a tender story, Diane! Since we have adopted two children from Russia, adoption is a subject close to my heart. And now, it seems, the doors have been closed. Hopefully not for long! My friends just came back from China with…believe it or not…a boy!
I remember you mentioning your two from Russia and I wondered what you thought of this book. So pleased you like it. I hope the doors will soon be open again. How lovely for your friends Jarm.
Wow, as Wendy says, the opening lines are very challenging. I was wondering if Shu-Li means joy in mandarin. It’s a great addition to adoption-focused picture books.
Not sure about the name as I have looked it up. Depending on dialect Shu means establish. As I read this book I was remembering what one of the keynote speakers at the end of our LA SCBWI meeting in 2011 said to us Joanna. Kids need to know, the good and the bad stuff and yes a great addition to adoption-focused books. Thank you Joanna.
This sounds like a great title to add to our adoption section. I know so many children who were adopted from China, all but one of them girls. I like that the story dwells on how glad the family is to have her. I also like that it shows her parents’ sadness… although the priorities that led them to make that decision would be an interesting topic for discussion with older readers. Thanks, Diane, and isn’t it fun that now you can post? AND be first? 🙂
Thank you Susanna. Yes I like that this book lends itself to discussion with both children and adults. I love the discussion it is bring here too. I am glad you agree, a great addition to the list.
Yes isn’t it wonderful. (and I haven’t had to bug you once…hehe)
I understand the need for books like these, but wonder what adopted children will think about their own situations when they hear a that the child was left under a bridge.
mmm… true Julie. But again it leaves the door open to discussion and learning the facts. Understanding the situation at the time. What drives people to do such a thing and the feelings of those people. It’s a good thought, Julie. Who knows?
Yes, yes. Good point.
This sounds like an interesting story that could open up discussions on a lot of different levels. I hope it is a truly Joyful story.
Hi rhythm, yes it does. But both Marion and Young Chen have ensured throughout the rest of the book it is certainly a joyful occasion to have this gift in the lives of the American family. Anyone reading it will smile before the end is near. Thanks for commenting.
I’ve put the book on my library list!
It sounds like a sadish book. I like the happy ending. My parents tell me and my sister our adoption stories. I think books like this help because everyone’s adoption stories are different (like my sister’s and mine).
It’s not so sad Erik, only the first page. This book is full of joy, a special gift that came to this American family. You are so right about every adoption story is different, and about stories like this being helpful in discussions. Thank you for your comments my friend.
Sounds like a lovely book telling about how one family found each other.
It is, thank you Sandi. Glad you like it.
Diane…this looks like a beautiful book that addresses, not only adoption, but family love. Great PPBF choice!
Yes, it certainly does Vivian. Thank you for your comment.
What a wonderful way to tell this special story. It is honest and loving. I lovely story to read with children and discuss.
Yes, it is, thank you Darlene.
I have a soft place for adoption books, especially foreign. This would be a challenging circumstance to share with your adopted child. Abandonment is an issue with adopted kids. But, it sounds like the author handled the subject well. Great share.
I thought of you when reading this, Pat. Yes the author has handled the subject well. Not only Joy in the name but in the theme as well.
Love to hear more of your trip to NYC and the conference. Hoping you are resting up at home now.