cover image Mei-Mei Loves the Morning

Mei-Mei Loves the Morning

Margaret Tsubakiyama. Albert Whitman & Company, $15.96 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-5039-7

Tsubakiyama's first picture book offers a glimpse of a girl in modern urban China. After sharing a breakfast of rice porridge and pickled vegetables, Mei-Mei and her grandfather hook their songbird's cage on Grandpa's bicycle and ride it through the city streets, joining the throng of bikers. Once they reach the park, the two hang the birdcage on a branch of a plum tree, alongside a number of other cages, and join a multi-generational group in a tai-chi session. Though the backgrounds of the illustrations are sometimes undefined or sketchy, the artists' realistic, closely focused portraits of the happy child and her loving grandfather are the highlight of the full-spread watercolor-and-pencil artwork. Paired with a gentle, descriptive narrative imbued with the affection shared by grandfather and granddaughter, these emotion-charged paintings make it easy for readers to understand why Mei-Mei loves the morning. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)