Marcia Vaughan, Andrea Cheng, , illus. by Michelle Chang. . Lee & Low, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58430-057-1

Cheng returns for another intergenerational tale after her tender Grandfather Counts. In spare, evocative prose she again explores the relationship between a Chinese-born grandparent and a westernized granddaughter. This time, however, she focuses less on forging a relationship than on nurturing it with thoughtfulness. Nancy's grandmother Ni Ni receives a sad letter from China: "Brother says the city needs space for apartment building, so they tear down our father's old house in Suzhou"; Ni Ni's beloved goldfish pond and garden are also destroyed. After winning two goldfish at a fair, Nancy asks her grandmother more about the fish pond of her childhood and discovers it was surrounded by chrysanthemums. Debut artist Chang charts Nancy's progress as she creates, with the help of a gardener neighbor, a miniature pond in the backyard for the fish, complete with chrysanthemums, a stone path and bench. Moved to tears, Ni Ni takes photographs of "Ba Ba's Garden in America" to send to her brother. While the palette of the oil paintings is suffused with warm shades of chrysanthemum-like reds, yellows and oranges, the emotional temperature remains surprisingly cool. Stylized portraits sit uncomfortably within realistic backdrops, resulting in stagy characters with almost mannequin-like faces. The posed photographs in a final spread make the most successful compositions; here the close-up of Ni Ni smelling a mum and united with her grandchildren communicate the book's uplifting theme of the importance of familial ties and continuity. Ages 4-9. (Apr.)