Ying Chang Compestine: Morning Sun in Wuhan (Reggeli napfény Wuhanban* Clarion Books 2022)
When everybody adds wood, the flames rise high. (Chinese proverb)
January 19, 2020, evening: more and more people are coughing, and hospitals are beginning to fill up in Wuhan.
January 23, 2020, early morning: the public safety alert announces that the city will be placed under a complete lockdown, you cannot travel in or out, schools, offices, restaurants and shops will be closed.
Mei’s father works in a hospital and hasn’t been able to go home for days, there are so many patients waiting to be cared for. Individual residential communities in the city are also closed, only those who live there can enter. Volunteers help distribute limited resources. In this situation, Mei and her friends want to help. The little girl utilizes her talent in what she is best at: cooking. The city operates emergency kitchens to provide cooked food to medical workers on duty. Mei cooks for people who are sick or too old to cook for themselves, and her friends deliver the meals. The story shows that sometimes the greatest difficulties bring out the best in people and even a single person, even a child, can cause great changes.
Ying Chang Compestine herself was born in Wuhan and her parents are doctors. When the coronavirus situation worsened in the city, she wondered how her younger self would have reacted to the challenges. The story’s characters were based on real people who ran a volunteer kitchen to help medical workers, and its goal was to show the kindness of people who risked their own lives to help others. The book is a very nice edition with a cover by Crystal Kung. The serious topic is eased by the fact that the story focuses heavily on the prepared dishes, the recipes of which can be found in the volume with illustrations by Peish Zhang. The Chinese language is incredibly rich in proverbs: this is how elders convey their experiences to the young ones, who compete on how much of them they can memorize. The chapters of the book are also opened by a proverb in the original Chinese form and in English translation.
In my opinion, it is very important that the current problems of our time find a place in middle grade literature, so I was really looking forward to the publication of this book. I will be interested in the author’s other books as well.