When Max came to live with his grandmother, be brought clothes and his favorite toy: a sailboat. His grandmother lives by the sea, so Max had plans to put the boat in the water. When he set the boat down, instead of going into the water, it flew away into the sky! Where did it go? Max sat at the shore hopeful that his boat would come back. When it returned, it had a note and photos attached to the sail. It had been to China! Thanks to the note and pictures, Max and his grandmother learned a lot about Chinese culture.
This is a fabulous concept! I love the idea of a magical boat that sails off to faraway places and returns with information that introduces kids to other cultures. The author did a nice job focusing on simple elements of Chinese culture that young readers will recognize or easily learn. I wish there were more details - either in the story or at the end - to go with some of the concepts introduced (e.g., the types of games children like to play).
Unfortunately, there are some gaps in the story that left this reader disappointed. The illustrations are a nice complement, but the repeated picture from the cover later in the story doesn't really fit once the boat has returned. To set the stage for the story, Max is shipped from living with his parents to moving in with grandma in a different town. That seems a bit over-the-top for a response to bullying at school and is sure to raise questions with young readers no matter how fast you read that sentence. The tougher gap, though, is the rhyme scheme. It is uneven, forced, and the pattern shifts from page to page. This is a story meant to be read aloud, and as I was doing so, I kept getting frustrated. I wish I could recommend this -
Children who dream of other places and love fantasy will enjoy this first adventure with Max.
The rhyme scheme is awkward and shifts, so readers who like precise rhyme may get frustrated. Max moves in with his grandmother because he was being bullied at his old school. That is the opening scene of the story. Parents can anticipate questions about that event, as there isn't much "depth" to why parents would move their son to a whole different town.
This is the first book in a fantasy series that introduces children to cultures around the world.
The story creates a great opportunity to celebrate and learn about Chinese culture in your community, whether visiting an Asian market, eating at a Chinese restaurant, or exploring history and art at a museum.
8 and Up
3 to 6