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Little White Duck
Cover of Little White Duck
Little White Duck
A Childhood in China
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The world is changing for two girls in China in the 1970s. Da Qin—Big Piano—and her younger sister, Xiao Qin—Little Piano—live in the city of Wuhan with their parents. For...
The world is changing for two girls in China in the 1970s. Da Qin—Big Piano—and her younger sister, Xiao Qin—Little Piano—live in the city of Wuhan with their parents. For...
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Description-

  • The world is changing for two girls in China in the 1970s. Da Qin—Big Piano—and her younger sister, Xiao Qin—Little Piano—live in the city of Wuhan with their parents. For decades, China's government had kept the country separated from the rest of the world. When their country's leader, Chairman Mao, dies, new opportunities begin to emerge. Da Qin and Xiao Qin soon learn that their childhood will be much different than the upbringing their parents experienced.

About the Author-

  • Na Liu is a doctor of hematology and oncology. She moved from Wuhan, China, to Austin, Texas, in 1998 to work as a research scientist for MD Anderson Cancer Center. She met her husband, Andrés Vera Martínez, in Austin.

    Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez live in Brooklyn, New York, with their daughter, Mei Lan. They take annual trips to visit their families in Wuhan and Austin.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 4, 2012
    A doctor of oncology and hematology, author Liu was born in China in 1973, and her life there for more than 20 years provides plenty of odd autobiographical tidbits for this graphic novel inspired by her experiences. Aimed toward kids, Liu’s story captures life in China in the experience of one child, showing how even the broadest governmental policies and cultural standards affect an individual’s smallest moments. These darker corners give Liu’s reminiscence its power: strict Chinese one-child laws, the graphic misfortune of animals in China, the poverty and surliness of Liu’s rural relatives. Yet while the landscape is different, the children’s escapades are the same as those of kids today. This is the result of a husband-and-wife collaboration, and the emotional bond of the partnership is clear on every page. Liu is a calm storyteller whose words are enlivened by Martinez’s enthusiastic and energetic art, and their respective tones complement each other fluidly. Martinez’s work is a loving depiction of his wife in childhood, providing atmosphere through not only his period details in the stories, but also the between-story spreads that broaden the reader’s scope in understanding life in China at that time. Ages 9-13

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2012

    Gr 4 Up-Based on her childhood experiences, Na Liu and her husband have created a rich, multilayered memoir, incorporating history, geography, language, culture, and mythology into eight short stories; then weaving them together to create an exquisite tapestry of life in China during the 1970s. The work follows a logical progression, capturing youthful experiences against a broad Chinese landscape. Background information establishes each story and seamlessly segues into personal reminiscence, with excellent interweaving of each section. For example, the introductory dream sequence features Na Liu and her sister flying on a crane's back over panoramic China. The first narrative panel depicts the girls' awakening, with a painting of a white crane visible behind their bed. Mythological origins of New Year transition into an account of the family's celebration, with red banners and a dragon puppet echoing the colors and patterns from the previous holiday description. Scenes of daily life are juxtapostioned against the political climate, retelling simple stories through comic panels that can be enjoyed by young readers, but also delivering interesting perspectives and biting commentary on social issues. The grim realities of government propaganda, social class, and family dynamics make the memoir even more poignant. Humor, as well as the plays on words, enlivens many of the sections. The children's expressive faces provide a personal reaction to these contrasting points of view. This picturesque treasure introduces Chinese culture through a personal perspective that is both delightful and thought-provoking.-Babara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from September 15, 2012
    A striking glimpse into Chinese girlhood during the 1970s and '80s.Beginning with a breathtaking dream of riding a golden crane over the city of Wuhan, China, Liu Na, recounts her subsequent waking only to discover that Chairman Mao has passed away. The 3-year-old finds this difficult to process and understand, although she is soon caught up in the somber mood of the event. From there, her life unfolds in short sketches. With this intimate look at her childhood memories, Liu skillfully weaves factual tidbits into the rich tapestry of her life. In the section titled "The Four Pests," she explains about the four pests that plague China--the rat, the fly, the mosquito and the cockroach (with an additional explanation of how the sparrow once made this list, and why it is no longer on it)--and her stomach-turning school assignment to catch rats and deliver the severed tails to her teacher. In "Happy New Year! The Story of Nian the Monster," she explains the origins of Chinese New Year, her favorite holiday, and her own vivid, visceral reflections of it: the sights, sounds and smells. Extraordinary and visually haunting, there will be easy comparisons to Allen Say's Drawing from Memory (2011); think of this as the female counterpart to that work. Beautifully drawn and quietly evocative. (glossary, timeline, author biography, translations of Chinese characters, maps) (Graphic memoir. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist Online

    "Graphic memoirs are a cornerstone of the graphic-novel format, but rarely are they written with children as the primary audience. In eight short stories, Liu has done just that, giving younger readers a glimpse into her life growing up in China just after the death of Chairman Mao. By linking her stories to a teaching by Confucius that says one learns in three ways—by studying history, by imitating others, and through one's own experience—Liu shows how her parents survived the famine during China's Great Leap Forward, how the death of soldier Lei Feng influenced the behavior of Liu and her sister, and how a trip to the countryside to visit her relations helped Liu realize just how privileged her life in the city was. The stories are vivid even without Martinéz's bold artwork that evokes both traditional Chinese scrolls and midcentury propaganda posters. The result is a memoir that reads like a fable, a good story with a moral that resonates." —Booklist Online

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    Lerner Publishing Group
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