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Levine, Ellen.
New York : Scholastic, 1989
IL K-3, RL 2.7
ISBN 0590423045
Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
"Mei-Mei didn't want to hear anymore.  She didn't want English to have words that she didn't know in Chinese.  She felt sad and a tear slid down her cheek.  She didn't want the teacher to see.  But the teacher did see and said, "Letâ's stop for today," in English.  That night in bed Mei Mei felt afraid again.  She wasn't sure why…She felt she had lost something.  She felt she would lose something.  "Goodnight,' her mother said in Chinese."
I chose this modern day non-fiction story because I felt that it was written to explore the feelings of a Chinese student's experience in coming to a new country and learning a new language.  The protagonist is a Chinese child, Mei-Mei.  
The story is about Mei Mei a child that comes to America from China.  She is homesick and is resistant to speaking English.  Mei Mei goes a tutoring center where she meets an American lady with blue eyes that tries to befriend her.  While at first resistant, Mei Mei and the teacher build a special relationship. The teacher is emotionally supportive to Mei Mei and she helps her see that English is useful and it doesn't mean that Chinese will ever lose its value.  She helps Mei Mei to overcome her fears.
I appreciated that the story did not stereotype Mei-Mei but instead portrayed her as a unique and complex individual.  She is the protagonist of the story and was not placed into the 'tokenâ' role that unfortunately dominates many children's stories.  The story wasnâ't about assimilation into the American culture but instead realizing that she is part of a mosaic. The other children and adults in the story come from a diverse set of cultural backgrounds.  I believe this story is of great value to all students in teaching them about the experience of others coming to a new country and learning a new language.  For ELL students it provides a forum to analyze their own feelings in obtaining a language that is not dominantly spoken at home.  The story promotes empathy and cultural diversity.  (Bertha Perez,, college student)
SUBJECTS:     Chinese Americans -- Fiction.
                        Immigrants -- Fiction.            
                        Emigration and immigration -- Fiction.
                        English language -- Fiction.

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