Thursday, December 2, 2010

Raggedy Chan explores immigrant struggles through fable

Camille Picott/Joey Manfre
Pixiu Press (56 pages)

Review by Lyda Morehouse

Standing above them was a Jung-wu. Yao-chi had heard of these strange humans, but this was the first she had ever seen. The man had longish hair of white yarn. More white yarn sprouted from the tip of his chin. His flesh was woven cotton, his eyes stitched of black threat. He wore a red bow tie, blue jacket and red-and-white-striped pants.

‘I’m Raggedy Sam,’ said the Jung-wu. ‘Welcome to America…’”

The story of Raggedy Chan follows the adventures of a Chinese princess as she journeys to America to find the rain dragon which was stolen from her homeland. The events of Raggedy Chan’s tale are actually told to a preschool-aged girl, Emma, by her auntie.

Fifth generation Chinese-American author Camille Picot has written an incredibly charming coming-to-America story in the style of a Chinese fable. The illustrations by Joey Manfre are beautiful, particularly those of dragons, and add an extra dimension to the story.

I admit that I resisted reading this book for a long time because it had too many words. I was expecting a graphic novel, but this is, in point of fact, an illustrated novella. Once I adjusted my expectations, however, I found myself swept up in this tale.

As I mention above, the fable is told as a frame story. Often I find myself less compelled by one or the other parts of a story like this, but I was impressed by how tightly interwoven these two stories are -- particularly at the end. This is a lovely book, and, though the audience is likely young adults/middle grade students, it works just as well for any adult interested in fairy tales that are Chinese, American, and a unique combination of both.

To learn more and purchase the book with or without matching Raggedy Chan doll or teacher study guides, visit the Pixiu Press website.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a study guide for this one; I'll have to suggest it to our history teacher at my school.