- ISBN: 9781760899554
- Imprint: Puffin
- RRP: $16.99
On the last day of her old life, Peijing makes moon cakes with Ah Ma for the Autumn Festival. The following Peijing and her family, Ba Ba, Ma Ma, little sister Biju and Ah Ma, move to Australia and their new lives begin. Moving house is always a time of upheaval but when that move is relocating to a whole new country, where everything is so very different, it causes a huge impact and can put an enormous strain on a family. And it does in this case.
Peijing is the big sister but more than that, she feels a great sense of responsibility for all her family, all of whom are finding things difficult in their new country. Really, her only escape from her worries, is Little World – a miniature paper world she has created with the help of Biju. It is their refuge and their joy, although one which completely bemuses their parents.
When things start to fall apart for the family, Peijing finds herself even more anxious. Ma Ma is not herself, with an inertia that speaks of depression – the unknown quantity of Australian life making her feel even more homesick, Ba Ba is, at first, a fish out of water no longer having to wear the suits and work seven days a week as he did in his old life, and Ah Ma, is becoming confused and even forgetting who she is. Peijing and Biju, while embracing their new situation and adapting quickly to everything from school to food to clothes, are finding it difficult to reconcile all this with their adults.
It is, essentially, the story of every immigrant family, I would think, as former habits, customs, language and culture are left behind and new ones are imposed. Told through a combination of realism, traditional myths and stories, narrative and story-telling, it makes for a beautiful exploration of the immigrant experience and the sharing of the Chinese traditional culture. There is so much to explore with readers here: family life and traditions, siblings, respect and honour, cultural differences, culture shock, assimilation, mythology, symbolism and imagery, and personal growth.
I could see this being a particular useful addition to a Year 6/7 reading program whether as a whole class novel or in literature circles. Highly recommended for discerning readers in Upper Primary.