Title: Me and Mr. Mah
Author: Andrea Spalding
Illustrator: Janet Wilson
Publisher: Orca Book Publisher, 1999
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Theme: Intergenerational and interracial relationships, loss, friendship, memories
Synopsis (from School Library Journal): "After his parents' separation, Ian and his mother move far from their farm home on the prairie to a large Canadian city. There, Mr. Mah, a Chinese neighbour, introduces the boy to gardening, and they share memories of earlier times and distant places -- his neighbour's youth in China, and Ian's childhood on the farm. Each one has a memory box filled with tangible items from those places. After Ian's mother relocates them to a new neighbourhood, he comes across his friends' memory box in a secondhand store. He tracks down the old man, who has broken a hip and moved. They renew their friendship, which helps them both cope with life's changes."
Why I Chose This Book: I love that the story is based in Canada and how the author connects the prairies, Victoria and China. And I love Mr. Mah ~ he's such a sweet, old gentleman. Despite the obvious differences between the two characters, they have much in common and are able to help each other through some tough times. I think it's important for children to know that the most unlikely people can become true friends.
Opening: I met Mr. Mah the summer we moved. Mom and Dad had split. Dad stayed on the farm and Mom took me to the city, a thousand miles away. We might as well have gone to the moon. The yard was a moonscape -- patch grass and dirt, surrounded by a prison-like fence. I squinted through a gap in the fence. Next door, a man in a Chinese hat was working in a vegetable garden. There were no kids.
Resources (click on the images for the links):
|From Deep Space Sparkle|
It would be fun to make memory boxes. You could make your own or you could make a team Memory Box, with the emphasis on kindness and how to be a caring member of your community. Crayola has a lesson plan.
|Crayola's Team Memory Box|
One way to save your school memories is with an autograph book.
|This is also from Crayola|
This book is a fabulous tie-in with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. You can find some great lessons here.
Grand Conversation (remember that term?) Me and Mr. Mah cries out for a thoughtful class discussion. You could discuss the pain of parents divorcing, what it's like to grow older, the importance of holding onto special memories, and the joy in having an older friend.
I hope you love this beautiful book as much as I do :) Thank you, Susanna, for hosting Perfect Picture Book Friday!
I've teamed up with some bloggy friends for a Pete the Cat giveaway. Be sure to enter ! If you click on the image below it will take you to my original post.