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*Liu and the Bird: A Journey in Chinese Calligraphy* by Catherine Louis
Also illustrated by Catherine Louis:

What the Rat Told Me
Liu and the Bird: A Journey in Chinese Calligraphy
by Catherine Louis
Grades K-4 40 pages North-South Books April 2006 Hardcover    

One night as Liu sleeps, she hears the voice of her grandfather in her dreams. Inspired to visit him, she sets out on a journey across fields and mountains, facing harsh conditions and not always knowing the way. She finds her grandfather waiting for her, and he urges her to tell the story of her travels, making an interesting connection that makes you feel like perhaps you've actually just read Liu's story as recorded by her own hands.

The text of the story is a bit basic, with a straightforward account of Liu's journey from point A to point B to point C. Where the book really stands out is in the inclusion of Chinese calligraphy. Each page includes words in bold print, and these words are then illustrated in calligraphy. However, the art doesn't stop at just showing the appropriate character. Each word is presented with three vertical squares. The top square is a standard drawing of the word, typically a noun. Below the drawing is an example of early calligraphy, and below that is the word in modern Chinese writing. In this manner, readers can see the progression from the shape of an object to its written representation.

While the calligraphy is the reason for the story, the additional artwork throughout isn't neglected. The pictures are drawn with broad brushstrokes and blocks of color, mirroring the style of the calligraphy. The book is rounded out with activity ideas so that readers and their parents or teachers can bring the art of Chinese calligraphy into their own lives.

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  Lorie Witkop/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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