Finding Joy

Children's book illustration painting for Finding Joy, by Yong Chen.From The Critics

Children's Literature
The cover of this book is a great enticement. The watercolor illustrations by Yong Chen are breathtaking yet realistic. Each page of the book draws you to turn the pages as the story flows from China across the ocean to landscapes in the United States. A small baby wrapped in a blanket was left under a bridge with a note that reads, "This is our Shu-Li. Please take care of her. No room for girls." A kind elderly woman hears her cries and takes Shu-Li to the caregivers at a local orphanage, where she is fed warm milk and cared for lovingly. Meanwhile, halfway around the world a middle-aged couple, whose children are growing older, long for a baby girl. Photo in hand, we see the mother's thoughtful face as she travels by plane to claim this "baby born to strangers." The welcome home celebration at the airport is jubilant, introducing Shu-Li to her new daddy, along with two brothers and a sister. Living in a new land with a new family, Shu-Li also receives her new name: Joy. This picture book includes an author's note in the back, sharing information about the People's Republic of China's policy in 1979 to control population growth. It is a great way to explain the concept of multi-racial adoption to young children.

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This well-written story features a Chinese baby whose birth parents feel that they "have no room for girls" and sadly arrange for her to be found; she is then placed in an orphanage. Coste relates this heartbreaking event in gentle, nonjudgmental terms. A white American couple with grown children, who "missed the sight of little hands and chubby legs," feel that their "family's not complete" and decide to adopt a daughter from China. Shu-li is renamed Joy. Chen's painterly watercolor spreads are appealing, with realistic depictions of both races. They complement the simple elegance of the text. The author's note offers an explanation of China's policies and traditions that cause parents to prefer boy babies. It is both comprehensive and easy for even young children to understand. A number of excellent picture books that explore many types of adoption have been published in the past decade. This one would be a good choice for collections with a need for a variety of titles. Its handling of the harsh reality of the abandonment of baby girls in China is both accurate and sensitive.-Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Simple, brief prose and watercolor paintings attempt to tell a complex story. A Chinese baby girl, Shu-li, is abandoned by her parents because they have "no room for girls." A middle-aged American couple decides to adopt a baby girl because "our family's not complete." The wife travels to China and brings Shu-li home to join her family, which suddenly includes three enthusiastic teenaged children, barely mentioned (and not shown) in the beginning. They rename her Joy, and she grows up happy and loved. Young readers and listeners will be left with many questions, only some of which are answered in the author's note: Why did the couple look so lonely in the beginning if they already had three children? Why did the wife go alone to China? Why did Shu-li's family abandon her under a bridge? Chen's soft watercolors lend a dreamy tone to the already romanticized text. Coste has a lovely story to tell, but crosses the line from simple to simplistic. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

From Booklist
... Finding Joy begins with a heartbreaking double-page spread of parents in China leaving their baby girl. The next page shows the child safe with smiling caregivers in an orphanage. Then the viewpoint switches to an American family longing for a baby girl. The mother flies across the ocean, excited, but also anxious: "Could her family love a baby born to strangers?" The answer is there in the beautiful double-page watercolor paintings of the happy child in the embrace of new brothers and parents--first in the airport, and then as a toddler at home, with her new name, Joy.