Despite living in NYC, when someone says "Chinatown" I always think of San Francisco. William Low's Chinatown, however, is about the New York neighborhood. A young boy takes us on a tour of notable sites in his nabe such as tai chi in the park, ducks hanging in the butcher window, an herbal grocery, all the while imparting to us the wisdom that his grandmother has passed on to him. And what would be a book about Chinatown without Chinese New Year? The tour end with the lion dance in the parade, the wisdom roles reversing slightly when the boy informs his grandmother, "Gung hay fat choy."--Happy New Year.
This book appeals to me for several reasons: like Henry and the Kite Dragon (also illustrated by Low), there is a strong cross-generational relationship, the colors are vivid (take a look at the cover, the yellow positively glows), and it doesn't come across as "teaching us about Chinatown," instead it shares the experience. Truthfully, I also appreciate the length of the book: not too wordy (always a bonus, when a 2 year old is wrecking havoc nearby).
Low cleverly incorporates some very specific urban experiences: living above a store, crossing in the middle of traffic, subway entrances in the middle of sidewalks. These are all part of a celebrated and vibrant landscape.
There's still time to request this from the library before Chinese New Year, I hope you take a look.
Want more? I haven't read it, but Lion Dancer has photographs of the lunar New Year celebration in New York's Chinatown.
Big Kid says: Let's go to Chinatown again, soon.
Little Kid says: Car!