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My Chinatown: One Year in Poems

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  72 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
My Chinatown is a critically acclaimed, spectacularly illustrated picture book homage to family, culture, and a childhood spent in one of the most striking places in any city—Chinatown.

Kam Mak grew up in a place of two cultures, one existing within the other. Using extraordinarily beautiful paintings and moving poems, he shares a year of growing up in this small city withi
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Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by HarperCollins (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30)
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The Reading Countess
Both the illustrations (gorgeous) and the poetry (lyrical) tell the story of a young boy with feet in two places. This is a wonderful mentor for figurative language and character change. I plan to read it when we celebrate our annual Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year party (my Social Studies teaching partner covers ancient China during this time of year). Highly recommended!
Cindy Mitchell
Mak, Kam. My Chinatown, One Year in Poems, PICTURE BOOK. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2002. $6.99.

A young boy talks about his life in Chinatown after moving from Hong Kong. He describes the differences and similarities, the things he misses from his home before, and we see how he begins to love things about his new home, throughout the year. Written as different poems through the year, with illustrations that look very similar to photographs. The reader can definitely see the progress that t
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Neeli
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully illustrated. Ideal for starting discussions with tweens during Lunar New Year.
Ms. Yingling
Mar 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

A young boy adjusts to life in America, comparing the sorts of activities he did in his native Hong Kong with the new sights and sounds of his Chinatown neighborhood. Some of the things are familiar, like the kumquats, but different enough to make him think of how things were back home. The story is told in poems, so we don't get all of the details, but the emotional links are very vivid. As the year progresses, the boy learns to appreciate the things ab
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Leane
This story of a young Chinese immigrant is told completely in poetry. After moving to Chinatown, the narrator feels homesick and longs for things he has left behind in China. Over the course of a year, he begins to not only simply describe China and the things he misses, but what he sees around him in vibrant Chinatown. He begins to see that Chinese tradition and things like games and birds singing can be found in his new home as well as his old. As the year progresses, he watches dragon boat ra ...more
Gracie Larcher
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Overall, I really enjoyed My Chinatown: One Year in Poems. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story line is interesting. This is definitely a story I want to share with my future students.

The book is made up of several poems that also tell the story of a young boy who moves from Hong Kong to America. Each poem is based on a season, telling about the things the main character is experiencing at the time. Not only does this book expose students to poetry, but it also gives them a glimpse i
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Gayle Swift
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Images and Sounds That Capture Both Longing for "Home" and Ethnic Pride
My Chinatown: A Year in Poems by Kam Mak will delight the eye and the ear. The imagery of the poems convey an appreciation for the energy and culture of Chinatown. Readers of any ethnicity will enjoy the boy's stroll through the fascinating and exotic city. He struggles to understand how he can be in America and appreciate and feel connected to his native home in Hong Kong. Chinese culture exists in Chinatown but its differen
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Paige Cedergreen
Personal Reaction: I really enjoyed the diverse perspective of this book. It used a lot of sensory images to describe Chinatown and each season.

I think this book would be good for ages first through third grade. It tells a lot about the Chinese culture that students may not know about and through that it includes new vocabulary and is rich in figurative language. I would use it on a lesson on the Chinese New Year or on different cultures. Also, since each page is a poem related to part of his ye
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Greg
Jan 26, 2009 added it
Shelves: asian-americans
My Chinatown A Year in Pictures is a wonderful children’s picture book. When looking at other children’s books about Chinatown, authors took an approach that seemed to neglect the true cultural aspects of Chinatown in New York. Some authors talked about the perfume shops and fortune cookies. What makes My Chinatown stand above all the rest is that within each page is wonderful artwork capturing that daily life and experiences of Chinatown through the seasons. Accompanying each piece of art are w ...more
sarafem
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, picture-books
Cute story about a young boy from Hong Kong who is new to the States and living in Chinatown - what city I don't know and I guess it's not important.

It is Chinese New Year when he first arrives and he is not happy because it just isn't home. He misses all the things about Hong Kong that he cannot get there, such as his grandmother's pickled kumquats - uh, yum, sounds delicious. Just wait, you haven't heard his description of fish balls yet.

Anyway, you see his attitude start to change after his m
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Jackie
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author, Mak, recounts his wonder and joy at seeing the colorful and uniquely Chinese traditions brought to life in a year in America’s Chinatown. From Winter, with its New Year’s celebrations, firecrackers, fortune-tellers and kumquats, to Spring with its street cobblers, animal chess games and exotic caged birds, these seasons come alive with vibrant watercolor illustrations and insightful poems. The pages of the book move on to Summer, with its sleepy days listening to the hum of a sewing ...more
Jenny Ma
The nostalgic feelings of a young Chinese boy, who immigrated to New York’s Chinatown from Hong Kong, are expressed in 15 untitled poems. The poems span the time from one Chinese New Year to the next highlighting important Chinese holidays in between. The simplicity of language and photo-realistic paintings evoke poignant imagery, such as this phrase “. . . school where English words taste like metal in my mouth.”

A great poetry book to teach imagery, simile, and metaphor.
Readers may need suppo
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Beth Schencker
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-plays
This beautiful picture book written in poetic form tells of a year in the life of a young immigrant boy from Hong Kong. As the year progresses through pictures and verse, the young boy learns to love his new home in the Chinatown of New York City as much as the one he left. Understanding that life in America is different, the young boy can accept that there are many similarities too. The beautiful paintings by Kam Mak, the author and illustrator are just as special. Growing up in New York's Chin ...more
Matthew
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
What incredible detail this book exhibits. I enjoyed the poetry, the mastery of literary devices, the narrative thread that each poem maintained, but more than any of that, the illustrations. This man is truly a master of his craft. I have never seen such vivid detail conveed in an image. I am astounded by how lifelike the images were. I honestly believed at times that I was looking at a photograph lightly modified to appear to be a painting. The colors were so vivid and lifelike, the shadowing ...more
Eun
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
홍콩에서 미국 차이나타운으로 이사온 소년은 새로운 환경이 실망스럽고 집이 그립기만 합니다. 그러나 차이나타운에서의 처음 1년간의 여정을 시로 담은 이 그림책은 소년이 어떻게 새로운 동네에 마음을 주게 되는지 보여줍니다. 언어를 배우고, 친구를 만나는 이야기가 아니라 소년의 두 눈을 사로잡는 차이나타운의 여러 모습을 사진처럼 현실적인 삽화가 표현해줍니다.

뉴욕의 차이나타운에서 자라고 미술을 전공한 작가의 그림은 차이나타운의 전면적인 풍경을 담기 보다는 그 안에 존재하는 각 사람과 순간을 포착함으로, 향수병을 앓는 소년의 마음을 변화하게 하는 것이 정확히 무엇인지 설명해주며, 차이나타운이 생소한 아이들에겐 새로운 경험과 정보를 제공해줍니다. 개인적으로 시를 돋보이게 하는 삽화가 너무 좋고, 책의 디자인이 글과 삽화와 잘 어울리는 것 같습니다.
Christa
A boy adjusts to life away from his home in Hong Kong, in the Chinatown of his new American city. The realistic, representational art used in this book is amazing! And the poems are just as poignant. A very nice book, I really enjoyed it. The author uses illustrations, format, and content relevant for children. The characters are well-developed and the content goes well with the setting of the story line.
Ckorbakis
Very descriptive poems divided into the 4 seasons. The pictures go along with the poems and enhance the understanding of them. The sequence of the poems creates a sense of a Chinatown neighborhood. This will work very well in our unit of Chicago neighborhoods and prior to and after our trip to Chinatown. It would be interesting to look at examples of the 5 senses through the descriptions and illustrations.
Sarah
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
My Chinatown is a collection of poems about a young boy's year in Chinatown. At the beginning he seems resistant to live in his new town because he misses his life in China. However, as the poems go on season by season the young boy seems to embrace his life in Chinatown and finds that he enjoys his new neighborhood and life. The book looks culturally at the young boys identity in Chinatown.
Laura
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
From one January to the next, one boy from Hong Kong talks about the sights, sounds, and smells of his new home, New York's Chinatown. Each poem is accompanied by paintings, some so realistic you can mistake them for photographs. "My mother points out the fish she wants. He waves his tail gently and looks straight at me. That night I say I'm sick so I won't have to eat him."
Behind The Book
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This book tells one boy's adventurous tale of assimilating into a new country, and learning how to cope with missing home. The protagonist maintains a lighthearted mindset throughout the book, which encourages readers to do the same. All the while, he takes through Chinatown, his new home, and introduces us to the many sights and smells he encounters. Overall, a very charming read.
Lainey Bulmer
With so few books about diverse cultures and ethnicity, it was refreshing to read about one that is often ignored, Asian-Americans living in Chinatown. I enjoyed reading about their culture and traditions from a child's viewpoint. This made it seem easier to understand and makes me want to visit Chinatown one day.
A
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautiful picture book told in poems throughout the seasons of the year. When the boy first moves to Chinatown in NYC from China he is sad and missing his home in China. As the seasons move on and the years change, the boy comes to like his new home in NYC and I'd say even loves it.
Alexandria Hiam
Beautiful picture book told in poems throughout the seasons of the year. When the boy first moves to Chinatown in NYC from China he is sad and missing his home in China. As the seasons move on and the years change, the boy comes to like his new home in NYC and I'd say even loves it.
Josianne Fitzgerald
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lovely poems to mark the passing of the year. They work well for students at international schools in China.
Anne
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Kind of long for read aloud, good for culture, poems.
Dan
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: diversity
Talks about many different china towns. I didn't feel it was suitable for my first graders.
Kelly
Mak writes beautifully of living in the "in-between." His illustrations are exquisite and the simplicity of the poetry captures so much of day-to-day life in Chinatown.
Dolly
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading to their children
Vivid illustrations and colors - good introduction to Chinese culture
Kelsey Walker
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: geography, china, life
-shows and talks about life in a different country
-explores lots of different jobs
-many different poems
-Chinese traditions are explained
-Best for 1-3 grades
Andrew Perry
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ece-3601, writing, poetry
This is a wonderful nonfiction book comprised of poems describing a year in the author's life as a young boy in Chinatown.
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Kam Mak grew up in New York City's Chinatown. He earned his bachelor of fine arts degree from the School of Visual Arts, and since has illustrated book jackets for numerous publishers and taught painting at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, son, and daughter.
More about Kam Mak...

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