When a writer and an illustrator blend their gifts to create a picture book, that is a very special kind of magic. When a picture book comes into being because one person has been both author and illustrator, using each of these arts with equal skill, that goes beyond magic into the realm of miracles.
Kam Mak has created one of those miracles with My Chinatown (HarperCollins)–a book that is impossible to ignore because of his glowing, colorful paintings that dominate the front and back covers and the vivid images within that he has created with his words.
A small boy scuffs through ”drifts of red paper,” ”a snowfall the color of luck,” missing Hong Kong as he faces New Year in a place that is not yet home. “So many things got left behind,” he says, “a country/a language/a grandmother,” and the simple poetry in this statement aches with loss, expressed in new words that “taste like metal in my mouth.”
The words and paintings follow him through the year as he explores his new surroundings, makes friends, finds familiar sights in a place that slowly becomes familiar as well. When the New Year comes around again, with its “lions in the street outside,” he’s eager to be nearby watching them “shaking their neon manes.” (more…)