Chook Chook: Little and Lo in the city by Wai Chin
University of Queensland Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780702249754.
(Age: 7-9) Highly recommended. Family Life. Pets. Modern China - social customs.
Chook Chook: Little and Lo in the city is author Wai Chim's second story set in rural China. Mei Lin's pet chicken Little and her rooster Lo now live happily on the farm after their previous misadventures. She loves watching them dance and is very protective of them. After the death of her father, her brother Guo is struggling to cope with looking after their farm and her mother Ma is finding life difficult. Mei Lin's happiness is threatened when Ma decides to marry the one-eyed local butcher Jin. After the wedding life changes on their farm, smoked pigs are stored in the cellar and an aggressive rooster Itchy causes problems in the chicken house.
What is Mei-Lin's only course of action? She runs away to the city to find her brother Guo who is now studying at university. Along the way she meets street-wise orphan Cap who helps her navigate the dramas of train travel and city life. Little and Lo play an important role in the resolution of this narrative.
The Chinese country and Guangzhou city setting of this junior novel add a unique backdrop for the action. Each of the characters Mei Lin encounters have universal qualities that the reader can understand like kindness and helpfulness - Cap and the old woman on the train, or authoritarian like Professor Law. They also are quintessentially Chinese.
I would highly recommend this novel for readers from 7-9 years of age. This novel provides the reader with a slice of Chinese life with adventure, family dramas, pet chickens and a feisty young girl protagonist.