________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 18 . . . . January 13, 2012


Chung Lee Loves Lobsters.

Hugh MacDonald. Illustrated by Glen & Peri Craig.
Charlottetown, PE: The Acorn Press, 2011.
24 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-894838-56-6.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4



The lobster was alive. Its claws waved crazily close to Mr. Lee's fingers. Wally almost shouted for him to be careful. Mr. Lee was stroking the lobster and talking to it. Wally couldn't hear what Mr. Lee was saying but his voice sounded sad.

"What's he doing?" asked Bizzer.

"I don't know," Wally answered.

All at once Mr. Lee waded about a metre out into the harbour. He bent down and gently placed the lobster into the water. He spoke a few words in Chinese, stood in silence for a moment, then left the water and poured some more tea.

"His lobster is gonna get away!" shouted Bizzer in his biggest voice. He leapt from his hiding place and dashed to the beach.

This timeless tale by PEI's Poet Laureate has long been a favourite in PEI, winning the L. M. Montgomery Children's Literature Award when it was originally published. Now, almost 20 years later, it has been has been updated with new illustrations and a revised text and released for a new generation of children to enjoy.

internal art      Chung Lee Loves Lobsters is a gentle story with amusing interchanges between Wally and his five-year-old brother Bizzer, who is trying to interpret the world around him. The two brothers puzzle that their family restaurant's retired cook, Mr. Chung Lee, carefully purchases a healthy lobster every month but does not allow their mother to cook it. One day, they decide to follow him and are shocked to witness him releasing the lobster into the sea. His explanation reveals a reverence for the sanctity of life that creates a new awareness in the boys' appreciation for their environment and their place in it. That they have understood the enormity of this revelation is evident in that they later do not betray his trust to their mother, stating only that Chung Lee loves lobsters.

      The vibrant new illustrations by artists Glen and Perri Craig are eye-catching and appealing. Using mixed media and collage in vivid and more sombre colours, they perfectly portray the marine character of PEI. Full-page illustrations are supplemented on the text page by smaller oval vignettes that extend the visual story. Dynamic and fluid, the illustrations create interest and add energy to the quiet story.

      This warm family story would be perfect for the social studies or religious education curriculum with its message of inter-generational relationships and inter-cultural perspectives, as well as respect for all living things.

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews, a retired librarian, lives in St. John's, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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