Little Jiang by Shirley Marr
Illus. by Katy Jiang. Freemantle Press, 2020 ISBN: 9781925816471.
(Age: 8-10) Recommended. After moving from China to the small town of Honeywood, in Australia, Mei Ling Pang and her parents are struggling to fit in. Her father's sight is failing, and her mother's health also seems to be slowly deteriorating. Desperate to find a friend and make her parent's restaurant popular in their new home Mei will try just about anything to help. Then the creepy mortician from the Morgue next door uses a potion to wake the dead and a small boy vampire (Little Jiang) arrives at school and starts to follow Mei around. He has strange clothes, green skin and fangs and seems to be very hungry all the time. He is not the friend Mei so desperately wanted but he seems harmless enough.
Mei has always been able to see the spirits of the dead and speak to them but in her Aunt's opinion she is just cursed. In some ways the ghosts help her and in this case one is particularly helpful. The Peony Princess is a very interesting character, part princess, part giant fox with the ability to change faces and shape according to her needs. When the townspeople start to turn into drooling Chi-sucking vampires (Jiangshi) it is up to Mei, her spirit friends in Ghostland, her parents and the Bagua Master to save the day. A trip to Ghostland with the Peony Princess, some very quick thinking and lots of sticky rice balls save the day in the end.
This book is a great mix of rollicking adventure and ancient Chinese mythology and will appeal to young readers who are already attracted to stories with zombies and other creepy characters. Mei is a character that shows them that having the right attitude and fighting for your beliefs will win over your harshest critics in the long run. The twelve black and white illustrations add important detail and enhance the story for the readers. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Chinese Folklore, Vampires, Luck.