My Beijing
A 2019 Batchelder Honor Book Yu'er and her grandpa live in a small neighborhood in Beijing--and it's full of big personalities. There's a story around every corner, and each day has a hint of magic. In one tale, Yu'er wants to swim in the Special Olympics, a sports competition for people with disabilities. But she and her grandpa don't have a pool! Their trick to help Yu'er practice wows the whole neighborhood. In another story, a friend takes Yu'er to a wild place full of musical insects. Later, Yu'er hears a special story about her grandparents. And in the final story, Yu'er and her grandpa show a cranky painter the sweet side of life.

My Beijing Details

TitleMy Beijing
Author
ReleaseAug 1st, 2018
PublisherGraphic Universe (Tm)
ISBN-139781512445909
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Cultural, China, Childrens, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Family

My Beijing Review

  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    My Beijing is a collection of charming short stories by Nie Jun that are among the few Chinese comics—lianhuanhua, or Chinese sequential art--I have read. They seem sort of retro in that they are obviously highly influenced by western comics/illustration n style and content. The picture book size of the book makes it look like they are trying to appeal to children, but it’s really a set of comics short stories for all ages. The focus of the stories is a girl, Yu’er (Yu=fish; er=child), and her G My Beijing is a collection of charming short stories by Nie Jun that are among the few Chinese comics—lianhuanhua, or Chinese sequential art--I have read. They seem sort of retro in that they are obviously highly influenced by western comics/illustration n style and content. The picture book size of the book makes it look like they are trying to appeal to children, but it’s really a set of comics short stories for all ages. The focus of the stories is a girl, Yu’er (Yu=fish; er=child), and her Grandpa. The space Yu’er and Grandpa explore here is the Chinese streets, bustling with activity, and specifically the space is of hutongs, or narrow streets formed by “courtyard houses” where the yards are beyond the living spaces (i.e., courtyards, right!). Yu-er is disabled, uses a crutch and is often biked around or pushed in a cart, and the first story is of a dream she has of winning the Special Olympics that surprised me in bursting into fantasy, as she begins to fly. Sweet! A second, “Bug Paradise,” focuses on. . . bugs. Another, “The Letter,” is about Yu’er wanting to write a letter to her dead Grrndmother, which Grandpa is more than willing to help with.If you have plans to travel and want to know what Beijing is really like, I think you should look elsewhere for information, as these stories are as the title says about “Jun’s” Beijing, the one of his family and emotional experiences, one of sweet Grandpa and grand-daughter relations, innocent, with stories of universal themes that pretty much could be set anywhere (though you do see what the hutongs are like and there is a bit of local color). It’s a volume that feels like it is reaching out to bridge the largely unknown (to the West) East with the West, in content and style, feeling almost Golden Age nostalgic.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, this charmed me. The text is indeed small, but you'll want your magnifying glass anyway to see the details in the pictures (I did have to flip a few times to see if a certain character was new or not). It is magical, and it does have a 'non-North American' flavor. And I really don't have more words for it... read Beverly's comment instead. I do definitely recommend it.
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  • Sarah Metts
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this reminded me of Miyazaki films where there is magic that seems like it might be real or the imagination of the children in the story. There are moments of magic in this volume that are endearing and heart warming. The illustrations are done in water color and provide a softness that matches the tone of the story. I want to see these characters again. I think this could be a successful easy readers series too for libraries. It reminds me of Mr. Putter and Tabby with enjoyable characte Reading this reminded me of Miyazaki films where there is magic that seems like it might be real or the imagination of the children in the story. There are moments of magic in this volume that are endearing and heart warming. The illustrations are done in water color and provide a softness that matches the tone of the story. I want to see these characters again. I think this could be a successful easy readers series too for libraries. It reminds me of Mr. Putter and Tabby with enjoyable characters that you get to know in an episodic fashion. Wonderful addition to a children's library collection and endless possibilities for programming opportunities including a multicultural event or art class with watercolors.
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  • Karen Witzler
    January 1, 1970
    Charming graphic for children featuring a disabled child and her loving grandfather in a neighborhood in Beijing. Batchelder Award Nominee for translated children's book 2019.
  • Rod Brown
    January 1, 1970
    I was a little thrown by the fantasy/magical element in the first story as a goofy grandfather helps his granddaughter train for the Special Olympics. I thought this was just a collection of slice-of-life short stories set in China, but the mix of the everyday and the fantastic weaves throughout as we follow the two through a variety of gentle adventures in their timeless little neighborhood. Pretty mild overall, but still enjoyable and quite sweet.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    If you told me this was from Studio Ghibli, I would absolutely believe you. Mixing the contemporary with magical realism, this cute little watercolour collection combines all the detailed art, sympathetic, wise, child-like characters (both children and adults), whimsy, and a sense of wonder among the mundane that I have come to expect from everything Miyazaki-related. However, the author/illustrator is Chinese and writing largely about his own experiences within a crumbling, close-knit hutong community. In particular, If you told me this was from Studio Ghibli, I would absolutely believe you. Mixing the contemporary with magical realism, this cute little watercolour collection combines all the detailed art, sympathetic, wise, child-like characters (both children and adults), whimsy, and a sense of wonder among the mundane that I have come to expect from everything Miyazaki-related. However, the author/illustrator is Chinese and writing largely about his own experiences within a crumbling, close-knit hutong community. In particular, the book follows the daily life of Yu'er - who can't walk, but is carted around by her grandpa - as she searches for fun and a way to compete in the Special Olympics. She's not allowed to join the local pool, but her grandpa cooks up a way for her to swim through air, send letters to grandma, and have plenty of other adventures.There's also an interesting interview with the author about the origins of Yu'er here.
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  • Melki
    January 1, 1970
    Cute stories about a little girl and her grandfather. There's nothing particularly special or memorable here, though the artwork is delightful.
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked it! Cute stories of wonder and hope. Beautiful art with warming colors. Fun and soothing!
  • Suresh
    January 1, 1970
    I read three of the four stories, leaving one out because it involved depicting bugs in bottles (I am uncomfortable by the inherent cruelty in that). I enjoyed the water colour like artwork. The stories involve a magical element (except for the one with the grumpy, older artist). I can see the value and beauty of such artwork of a dream like beauty and of having good, quality companionships, perhaps reminiscent almost of a forgotten time, expressed in a nation that is still more fully emerging t I read three of the four stories, leaving one out because it involved depicting bugs in bottles (I am uncomfortable by the inherent cruelty in that). I enjoyed the water colour like artwork. The stories involve a magical element (except for the one with the grumpy, older artist). I can see the value and beauty of such artwork of a dream like beauty and of having good, quality companionships, perhaps reminiscent almost of a forgotten time, expressed in a nation that is still more fully emerging to the West.Personally, I was hoping for stories of everyday and different Beijing characters, going about their everyday lives and finding wonder in that - I was hoping to learn more of the possible lives of the current residents here.Perhaps this is a cultural aspect, but I found it unusual that the dedication is first made to a Mr _, a managing director at a company, and lastly to the artists wife.Regardless of the above, the artwork is pretty and colourful, great that the second main character is a young female child and I was glad to see the artwork and passion by an artist from China.Thank you for the experience.
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  • DaNae
    January 1, 1970
    So much to adore here. The relationship between the grandpa and the little girl is sublime and the depiction of the neighborhood is warm and inviting. How often do you get to have a playdate with your grandfather as a child.
  • Ms. Arca
    January 1, 1970
    My very first arc! I loved the setting of the hutongs in Beijing and the little plays with language (Yu’er is such a cute name and means ‘fish child’ but she can’t swim in the first story!). I also enjoyed Yu’er and her grandpa’s relationship (mostly I enjoyed him, he was a delightful, goofy character). I know it’s a comic ‘style’ but I wished the characters looked less European-baby esque and more like an everyday Beijinger (unless they’re supposed to be multi-ethnic, it didn’t seem like it tho My very first arc! I loved the setting of the hutongs in Beijing and the little plays with language (Yu’er is such a cute name and means ‘fish child’ but she can’t swim in the first story!). I also enjoyed Yu’er and her grandpa’s relationship (mostly I enjoyed him, he was a delightful, goofy character). I know it’s a comic ‘style’ but I wished the characters looked less European-baby esque and more like an everyday Beijinger (unless they’re supposed to be multi-ethnic, it didn’t seem like it though..). I’m not sure what I would use this for or who the prime demographic would be for this one, four stories is a weird length, and there’s not enough text for it to bring to mind ideas for my classroom.. But as a Mandarin minor- elementary-ed-graphic novel-art loving teacher... it was sweet and worked for me!
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  • Chara
    January 1, 1970
    This was cute, it had four stories revolving around a girl and her Grandpa. It also has this subtle whimsical magic element, that I thought was charming. The art is fantastic.
  • Jenny G
    January 1, 1970
    This book received the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. I read it digitally on Hoopla. This story is about a young girl with a physical disability and her grandfather. There are multiple mini-stories throughout. The stories are set up in the format of comic strips. The first story allows the reader to be introduced to the two main characters and their character traits. Both the girl, Yu'er and her grandfather are very determined to not let her disability affect her dreams. It starts out by her wanti This book received the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. I read it digitally on Hoopla. This story is about a young girl with a physical disability and her grandfather. There are multiple mini-stories throughout. The stories are set up in the format of comic strips. The first story allows the reader to be introduced to the two main characters and their character traits. Both the girl, Yu'er and her grandfather are very determined to not let her disability affect her dreams. It starts out by her wanting to be in special olympics as a swimmer, but the pool would not allow her to participate. The grandfather gets her a pool of her own and she learns to swim, and her dreams allow her to end up swimming through the skies and everyone who ever made fun of her is in awe and thinking of her as a hero. Most of the stories throughout have a fantasy component to really illustrate the message and theme the author is trying to portray. I gave this book a poor rating for a couple of reasons. While the themes throughout the stories are important life lessons, the way the author writes left a sour taste in my mouth. I do not know if it is because some words were lost in translation, but there were many parts when the girl was being made fun of and the author chose some vulgar language such as, 'loser, jerkface, gimpy, dope, etc.' In addition, the characters in the story did some things that I would not share with my students such as rip wings off butterflies, and an old man yelling at kids saying, "After I'm dead." Along with the illustrations showing a lot of bellies and bottoms hanging out, and the grandpa's eyes always looking like X's, it was not a book I would read to my students. I know some Chinese and Japanese cartoons make the character's eyes look different than what I am used to. I also don't know if I am just not educated on books written in China, but this book had a lot of concepts that would be too suggestive for students in elementary school.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2 stars4 1/2 stars for the art3 stars for the storyI cannot do maths today so I'm calling it 3 1/2 stars because that seems rightThe stories are slight and quick reads. The art is the real winner here. The grandpa's eyes bothered me throughout; in America it would mean he is a drunk (is this what it means in China? could someone please comment who KNOWS?). I appreciated the translations/explanations. The time travel concepts seemed almost forced. Cute thou 3 1/2 stars4 1/2 stars for the art3 stars for the storyI cannot do maths today so I'm calling it 3 1/2 stars because that seems rightThe stories are slight and quick reads. The art is the real winner here. The grandpa's eyes bothered me throughout; in America it would mean he is a drunk (is this what it means in China? could someone please comment who KNOWS?). I appreciated the translations/explanations. The time travel concepts seemed almost forced. Cute though.Liked this.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Strangely compelling graphic style picture book about a girl and her grandfather. I loved how the illustrations give such a fascinating look at the city of Beijing and a peek into a certain type of lifestyle.
  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    This was a sweet little collection of stories, very wholesome and innocent. But the art is what really makes this book wonderful, it's soft and vibrant and the colours are beautiful. A simple but sweet read.
  • Jamie K
    January 1, 1970
    As others have said, this is a sweet little book. The stories are heartwarming and everyday, but there is a beautiful element to each of them. Very quick read as well, took less than 30 minutes to read the four comics contained. I hope there will be a second volume!
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  • Cat
    January 1, 1970
    Four sweet, tender, funny stories about a young girl and her offbeat grandpa. Highly recommend as it is a short read and you'll feel good after finishing it haha
  • Emily Jackson
    January 1, 1970
    it was fun to read a children's book that was not published in America.
  • Anirudh
    January 1, 1970
    The book was funny
  • Tina Dalton
    January 1, 1970
    Four short stories about a granddaughter and grandfather. The art work is gorgeous, the stories are heartwarming and funny. I loved it.
  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    It is so damn cute!! The feels...
  • Jae
    January 1, 1970
    just a little bit of magic ✨
  • Nafiza
    January 1, 1970
    This was so beautiful in tone and execution.
  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Sweet, adorable, magical. Not quite my bag, but lovely all the same.
  • Marcus Willock
    January 1, 1970
    These stories gave me that "aaawwwww" feeling.
  • Jenessa
    January 1, 1970
    An adorable middle grade graphic novel full of color! 4 short stories that transport you to Beijing in a way I never expect. Adorable, heartwarming, and one for my future bookshelf.
  • Kirsten
    January 1, 1970
    This charming graphic novel beautifully conveys the slow paced, family centered life of Beijing's ancient "hutong" neighborhoods--where connected tiled-roof homes surround brightly colored shared courtyards, passageways are narrow--just wide enough for a pedi-cab--and rich delicious smells waft throughout while multi-generational families laugh and play and work together. I loved this book so much.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    A small part of Beijing comes to life through the daily lives and adventures of Yu'er and her beloved grandfather. Complemented with lively, color-drenched artwork with intricate details, the four interlinked stories that are told here are touching in many respects. From the first story in which Yu'er dreams of swimming in the Special Olympics but doesn't have access to a pool to the last one in which she takes painting lessons from an elderly neighbor who despairs of ever being recognized for h A small part of Beijing comes to life through the daily lives and adventures of Yu'er and her beloved grandfather. Complemented with lively, color-drenched artwork with intricate details, the four interlinked stories that are told here are touching in many respects. From the first story in which Yu'er dreams of swimming in the Special Olympics but doesn't have access to a pool to the last one in which she takes painting lessons from an elderly neighbor who despairs of ever being recognized for his artwork, these are poignant tales, sure to touch readers' hearts. I loved how Yu'er's physical disability doesn't keep her from doing whatever she wants to do and how it is only gently mentioned in a couple of the stories even though obvious in the drawings and not a large part of the other stories. As depicted here, there is magic even in the most mundane events.
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    On the very first page, Jun lays out the crux of the story; determination in Yu’er’s cocked eyebrow, technical drawings of swimming positions, her Grampa’s discomfort at the swimming class’s rejection of her, and her bright-cheeked, frank acknowledgment; “I get it. They didn’t want me either, did they?” On the very last page, one small frame of Yu’er riding on her Grampa’s back, both of them happy and full of positivity sums up their outlook. Throughout, readers will feel grounded in the close, On the very first page, Jun lays out the crux of the story; determination in Yu’er’s cocked eyebrow, technical drawings of swimming positions, her Grampa’s discomfort at the swimming class’s rejection of her, and her bright-cheeked, frank acknowledgment; “I get it. They didn’t want me either, did they?” On the very last page, one small frame of Yu’er riding on her Grampa’s back, both of them happy and full of positivity sums up their outlook. Throughout, readers will feel grounded in the close, consistent, and supportive relationship between Yu’er and Grampa. Surprisingly ephemeral, magical incidents are layered on top of this; at one point, Yu’er floats away, swimming in the sky, later she writes a letter to her deceased grandmother, which is received decades earlier and brings Yu’er’s grandparents together in a time-travel loop. This richly complex and captivating story is intertwined with carefully-drafted details and personable interactions in their “hutong” - one cozy neighborhood in Beijing, China where the creator lives. Although the whole is more effective as a place-setting exploration, some readers will be fascinated by this story of a girl who is barely able to walk, but who has a long list of talents, strengths, fans, and neighborhood adventures. The gentle watercolors over careful line drawings convey humble strength in the face of daily, human struggles - but some readers may be perplexed by the lack of clear delineation between fantasy and reality.I reviewed this book for ACL.
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