I am on the lookout for books that feature main characters who are of mixed race or culture. I am particularly interested in ones where the mixture is Chinese/Caucasian. There is only one I have found so far that features a little girl whose mother is Chinese and whose father is Caucasian. But it is brilliant.
“Shanghai Messenger” written by Andrea Cheng and illustrated by Ed Young tells the tale of an eleven-year-old who is invited to go to China by her relatives. May (Mei) is a little wary at first, asking many questions about her possible experience. For example, she wonders if people will stare at her in China, because she is half Chinese. But May agrees to go, and the story takes us through her preparation, her journey, and then back home.
A series of small vignettes brings life to the story. The author does an excellent job of contrasting the Chinese and American cultures. She also does a good job of bringing to life what it is like in China, and how it is to experience life there as a foreigner.
May is the “Shanghai Messenger” of the title, sent to bridge the gap between her American and Chinese families. Although she is originally nervous about meeting her relatives in China, she does end up finding her place among her welcoming Chinese family.
Questions about her identity are a small part of the story and are handled very well. In America everyone thinks she is Chinese, she states. And in China they all stare at her as well. “I guess Max [her brother] and I are half and half everywhere in the world,” she concludes.
If you find any good books where the main character is of mixed race or culture, please let me know.