Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mei Li

Finished Mei Li by Thomas Handforth. This is the second book to win the Caldecott Medal, in 1939. It is the story of a small girl in China who sneaks away from her family to attend the New Year's Fair. She is continually scolded, especially by her brother, who says "what can a girl do?" She does what she wants, that's what she does. She asks a girl acrobat to balance her upside down in the palm of her hand, she feeds bean curd cake to a trained bear, has her fortune told and gives one of her lucky pennies to a beggar girl. She has a wonderful time. The story is a bit wacky, but probably fun for the target audience of 4-8 year olds. The drawings look like a combination of ink and charcoal. Once again I am reminded of Robert McCloskey's style.

I had to request this book through interlibrary loan. It came from the Pere Marquette District Library in Clare, Michigan, 144 miles Northwest of here. Markings inside the book suggested that it was once the Garfield Memorial Library. The book itself is large, 9.25 inches by 12.25 inches. As you can see it has a bright cover with a picture of Mei Li and her brother San Yu at the fair. The interior illustrations are black and white. This seems a shame since so much color is mentioned in the text, but I suspect that books with color illustrations were a bit pricey in 1939.

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