This is an essential entry in the series, and a valuable window into China for young readers.
Carole P. Roman’s formula for explaining the basics of other cultures around the world proves successful once again, as she focuses on the populous and still somewhat mysterious country of China in her picture book If You Were Me and Lived in…China.
Roman, author of the Captain No Beard series and the If You Were Me series, seems to have settled into a familiar routine in the latter series: geography, common children’s names, simple vocabulary lessons, cultural treasures and highlights, cuisine, sports, and traditions of the country at hand are all introduced, along with illustrations by Kelsea Wierenga that combine excellent hand-drawn pictures with occasional added touches of realism via Photoshop.
Foreign words are often broken down phonetically, a feature perhaps more important in this book than any of the others in the If You Were Me series. Roman navigates the notoriously difficult language, giving the names and pronunciations of geographical features, and even the little-known origin of the country’s name: “The name China comes from the way people tried to pronounce Qin (Ch-een). The Qins were a family or dynasty that ruled China over two thousand years ago.”
Later, Roman gives a taste of the spoken language, and a chance for interaction from readers, when she writes: “Wo ai ni Mama (Woo eye nee Maa-ma) is how you would say, I love you, Mommy. The word for Daddy is Baba (Ba-ba). Can you say, I love you Daddy in Chinese?”
This entry’s flaws lie in its editing. For example, a passage about the famous terra-cotta army “that was recently discovered buried underground approximately two thousand years ago” could prove confusing.
Despite these problems, the concept of the If You Were Me series overcomes most of these stumbling blocks. The book’s range of information, the simplicity and appeal of its presentation, and Roman’s unique ability to help small children imagine life in a different part of the world all combine to make If You Were Me and Lived In… China an essential entry in the series, and a valuable window into a major culture.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.