Elizabeth Varadan | The Children’s Book Review | March 20, 2014
By Elizabeth Quan
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Tundra Books (March 12, 2013)
What to Expect: Small vignettes of a bygone world; vibrant illustrations.
In the 1920s, when the author (now 90) was a small girl, her father took the family to his childhood home in China for a two-year visit. He wanted them to know their culture. Stepping through the garden’s moon gate, meeting their grandmother, Popo, Elizabeth Quan and her brothers and sisters found a magical world, far unlike their life in Canada. In this little collection of 17 anecdotes, the author shares fond memories of village life of the 1920s, recalling Popo’s kindly care and simple way of life.
There was the fishpond in the garden, where Quan and her siblings floated paper boats. There was the Ching Ming Festival, to honor the ancestors. Chinese school, with its daunting script. The issue of clothing for the girls (blouses and pants instead of dresses). A wondrous bridal procession, with the bride hidden inside a bridal sedan, carried by four bearers. Cantonese opera. Pirates! Experience after experience unfolds through the eyes of the child Quan once was, conveying the wonder she felt living “beyond the moon gate.”
“The fishpond was magical to us. It teemed with goldfish, darting in and out of the shadows cast by the bamboo grove beside it.”
Quan’s watercolor paintings bring each anecdote to life in brilliant jewel tones and with quirky humor. This is a beautiful book for families to share and for individual readers to revisit.
This book will appeal to readers ages 6 to 8, who are interested in what life was like almost a century ago in China, and who have an interest in family history.
About the Author
Elizabeth Quan is a Canadian watercolorist active in the art scene both nationally and internationally, and has been for over 25 years. She is known for her vital and organic impressionistic works which are included in hundreds of private and corporate collections. She was the last protégé of Jack Pollock. Elizabeth holds a BA in East Asian studies from the University of Toronto, and was connected with the Chinese Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum for six years. She has published three books including: Quan, My Life My Art, and The Immortal Poet of the Milo — three Chinese puppet plays. She was an active puppeteer for many years. She is widowed with three grown daughters and lives in Toronto.
Add this book to your collection: Beyond the Moongate: True Stories of 1920s China, by Elizabeth Quan
About the Reviewer
Beyond the Moongate: True Stories of 1920s China, by Elizabeth Quan, was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan.