cover image I Hate English!

I Hate English!

Ellen Levine. Scholastic, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-42305-2

``Such a lonely language. Each letter stands alone and makes its own noise. Not like Chinese.'' Mei Mei, a bright and articulate immigrant from Hong Kong, is having much difficulty adjusting to the new language and culture at school in New York City. When she hears a story in English about traveling by covered wagon, Mei Mei cries. ``She didn't want English to have words that she didn't know in Chinese. . . . She felt she might lose something.'' A sensitive teacher takes Mei Mei under her wing, literally bombarding the girl with words, and succeeds in breaking through her fear of losing her identity. This story of cultural adjustment rings true, and Mei Mei's dilemma is strongly affecting. Her disgruntlement with English, the fun of an outing to Jones Beach, to cite two contrasting examples, are brought vividly to life by Bjorkman's cartoon-style illustrations (watercolor with pen-and-ink outline). Differentiating carefully between the Asian and Caucasian characters, the breezy humor of the pictures alleviates what otherwise would have been a burdensome bibliotherapeutic message. Ages 5-7. (Sept.)