Popo & Meimei Can Help

Little, Brown. Apr. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316500708.
PreS-Gr 2–Young Meimei lives with her grandmother in a simple, spartan house with a backyard and a vegetable garden. At first, Popo helps Meimei with morning tasks: pouring the milk, doing her hair, putting on her jacket, and harvesting the vegetables. Along the way, in speech bubbles, Meimei communicates in English and Popo communicates in Mandarin. A transliteration of each hanzi is written above it in a smaller font, and then marked by an asterisk which corresponds to an English translation at the bottom of the page. As the day unfolds, Meimei has a chance to help Popo when a telephone call in English requires the child to take the call. Here the full-bleed spread uses a simple array of letters and the characters’ expressions to convey the universal confusion of listening to speech in a language one cannot yet understand. Wu’s pleasingly simple character illustrations recall the style of Bruna’s Miffy, and the sherbet-hued landscapes, when they appear, add warmth and depth to the setting.
VERDICT This heartwarming depiction of an English-speaking child and her Mandarin-speaking elders helping one another across a language barrier will appeal to all children familiar with relatives who speak a different language. Highly recommended for all collections.

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