Crouching Tiger

Ying Chang Compestine, illus. by Yan Nascimbene. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4642-4
Nascimbene’s (First Grade Jitters) delicately drafted ink-and-watercolor artwork distinguishes this child-of-immigrants tale about Ming Da, who scorns his Chinese grandfather until Grandpa’s perfectly timed martial arts kick saves a stranger from injury. That gets Ming Da’s attention; he agrees to let Grandpa teach him tai chi, and when the New Year comes, the lion dance parade offers him a chance to show off his hard work to all of Chinatown. Compestine (The Runaway Wok) excels at portraying Ming Da’s embarrassment (“I jammed my headphones into my ears to avoid talking to Grandpa”), though more sentimental moments may put off jaded older readers (“ ‘Could you teach me, please?’ I asked in a low voice”). The beauty Nascimbene discovers in Ming Da’s suburban world—the leaves that fall around Ming Da as he practices, parade-goers scattered like confetti, the stars that accompany Ming Da and Grandpa on the way home—echoes the beauty Ming Da eventually finds in Grandpa’s tai chi poses. Readers will warm to the duo’s growing friendship and the gifts that come as Ming Da allows himself to enter Grandpa’s world. Ages 6–10. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 12/13/2011
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