Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chook Chook: Mei's Secret Pets

Chook Chook: Mei's Secret Pets by Wai Chim (University of Queensland Press)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9780702249464
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton


Chooks and markets and one-eyed butchers. Love and loss. This chapter book for younger readers is certain to delight.

Mei lives in rural China on what must surely be the only farm without animals following the death of her father. However, when Mei discovers two fluffy chicks (and saves them from a snake) she vows to keep them. She hides the chicks and cares for them after school

Mei's brother shares her secret but the chooks are found by her mother and sold to the one-eyed butcher. Mei must now buy her chickens back. When efforts to earn money fail, Mei believes all is lost. However, it is through kindness that she is able to save them.

The subtle weaving through of the mother and family's story and of village life raises this book to the next level. While Ma may appear harsh at times, the reasons behind this are made apparent.

Mei is an absolutely delightful character and one that Australian children will easily connect with. This story is an easy introduction to another culture and shows that while each nation and culture has its own identity, there are so many basic similarities. Highly recommended.


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