My Chinatown

My Chinatown
Age Range
Release Date
January 05, 2016
Buy This Book
My Chinatown is a critically acclaimed, spectacularly illustrated picture book homage to family, culture, and a childhood spent in one of the most striking places in any city—Chinatown. Kam Mak grew up in a place of two cultures, one existing within the other. Using extraordinarily beautiful paintings and moving poems, he shares a year of growing up in this small city within a city.

My Chinatown explores a boy's first year in the United States—after emigrating from China—as he grows to love his new home in Chinatown through food, games, and the people surrounding him. Through Kam Mak's spare verse and richly detailed artwork, the streets of Chinatown come vividly alive.

Chinatown—a place of dragons and dreams; fireflies and memories
Chinatown—full of wonder and magic; fireworks on New Year's Day and a delicious smell on every corner
Chinatown—where every day brings something familiar and something wondrously new to a small boy

Editor review

1 review
The sights and sounds of Chinatown
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
A young boy adjusts to life in America, comparing the sorts of activities he did in his native Hong Kong with the new sights and sounds of his Chinatown neighborhood. Some of the things are familiar, like the kumquats, but different enough to make him think of how things were back home. The story is told in poems, so we don't get all of the details, but the emotional links are very vivid. As the year progresses, the boy learns to appreciate the things about his new situation that make him happy.
Good Points

The descriptions of life in Chinatown are very vivid; the author mentions not only the sights and sounds, but the smells of "hot oil, chicken sizzling". The accompanying pictures also have a lot of detail in them, and this would be a good book to use to introduce Chinese culture in the US before reading a chapter book like In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson or to introduce some of the holidays that are mentioned in the book.

This is also an interesting study of how difficult it is to be new to a country, and I loved how the author made connections between the new environment and "back home". This is a good way for children who have moved to make sense of their new home.
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