Alone Like Me
Rebecca Evans, Author and Illustrator
Annie Schwartz Books, May 3, 2022
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: Rural immigrants, China, Moving, Educational system, Friendship, Multicultural
Opening: “I used to go to school in the mountains of China, where I was born, but since we moved, my desk there is empty. My parents can’t afford to pay for school here in the crowded city.”
Liling and her family have moved from their rural farm in China to an overwhelming urban city. Because of Chinese law, Liling can’t go to school and spends her days with Mama or Baba at work. At the playground, the other children throw sand at her and tease her old red coat and dirty shoes. She is considered a second class citizen.
But after she shares a smile with a girl in a bright yellow jacket who lives in an apartment beneath hers, Liling has a big idea! She draws a picture and lowers it down to the girl–Qiqi–who returns it with a drawing of her own. When the new friends meet face to face, Liling takes Qiqi’s hand, and they walk bravely into the park–together.
With luscious watercolor illustrations and lovely poetic text, this achingly beautiful story is about our universal desire for connection, and the comfort we feel when we find a true friend.
Why I like Alone Like Me:
Alone Like Me is a beautiful and heartfelt story about the power of friendship. Liling moves from her home in the mountains to a bustling Chinese city. Because she is a rural immigrant, Liling and her family are considered second class citizens. She can’t go to school, she’s lonely and desperately wants a friend. And she spots that friend in a yellow coat at the market one day.
This story is unique. I can honestly say that I have never read a picture book like this one. It immediately draws reader’s into the story. I didn’t know about the hūkðu record that identifies a person as a rural or urban dweller and the limitations imposed on school attendance, jobs, food purchases and housing.
The stunning artwork really shows the story. The muted blue/gray watercolor illustrations emphasize the sadness Liling feels. The only color is Liling’s bright red coat and her friend Qiqi’s bright yellow slicker. The city, work and housing scenes give a real sense of Liling’s new life.
I love the glossary and pronunciation of Chinese words and expressions at the beginning of the story. It is a quick guide for readers to check out words and expressions throughout the story. Make sure you check out the author’s note at the end, as readers will learn about the inspiration behind the story and information about China.
Rebecca Evans grew up near Buffalo, New York in a family full of musicians, artists, and crazy people with a love for life. She started drawing as soon as she could hold a crayon and just never stopped. She new from a very young age that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. She has illustrated and authored more than twenty-two children’s books, teaching art at a local Art Center and publishing artwork with magazines and multiple publishing houses. She regularly speaks at elementary schools and share her love of literature and art with children. She’s also the Co-Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI and has mentored with EB Lewis. She lives in Maryland and enjoys spending time with her husband four young children, while working as author/illustrator from her home studio.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Reviewed from a library copy.