Belle Yang, Author, Belle Yang, Illustrator Harcourt Children's Books $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-202006-4
In Yangs inaugural childrens book, the eponymous hero is a spunky purple donkey with a harness of bells that sings out his name. Though several people attempt to rein him in, Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin refuses to be ridden, owned or made to work in the fieldsuntil one special boy, the boy who gave me my name, comes calling. Then Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin is game for anything: I take him in the spring to find blossoms, in the summer to watch turtles swim, in autumn to pick persimmons, and in winter to make fresh tracks (the two even have matching tufts of hair on their heads). Although Yangs text occasionally teeters into heavyhandedness (He gives me room to be alone in my thoughts. He knows my dreams whether I say anything or not, says the donkey), her buoyant gouache illustrations keep the story lighthearted. She characterizes scenes of cart drivers aloft and children spinning in mid-air with witty folk-art stylings and an exuberant sense of color. The artwork conjures a magical Asian landscape for Chili-Chili-Chin-Chin and his friend to frolic ina world where star-like flowers dapple the ground and the sky glows like sapphires. Ages 3-7. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!