Father's Chinese Opera by Rich Lo Book Review

Father's Chinese Opera by Rich Lo
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: June 3, 2014

Rich Lo sets the stage of his early childhood, recounting a life at The Chinese Opera that his father earned some brief fame. The story centers around one summer, where a young boy, enamored by his father's work in the opera, wishes to become part of the show. Rehearsing day and night, the boy is sure that after only a brief time he will be able to perform, however he soon learns that following your dreams takes more than just a summer of practicing.

This was a nice story with absolutely gorgeous watercolor illustrations that really embraced the Chinese culture. With the backdrop of the Chinese Opera, Lo explores the relationship between father and son and the importance of hard work and practice.

After reading the afterword by Rich Lo, I found the true story surrounding this picture book to be far more intriguing than the picture book itself. Perhaps not age appropriate, but no sadder than Grandfather's Journey or any children's book about the Holocaust. In other words, I think kids can handle sad. Lo recounts the tale of he and his siblings escaping from China, their father, already a well-respected man within the Chinese Opera circuit, came after. They went to Panama, where for almost a decade, Lo's father received a great deal of notoriety. Then, seeking a better life, the left for America. The fame his father experienced disappeared and he found himself struggling in America. He became a nobody, but he did it for his family.

Perhaps it is because I am an adult that I find the story behind the story more intriguing or perhaps it is because that is the better story. (not that there was anything wrong with the one told) One little boy wanting to learn acrobatics seems so small compared to this other story about escape and fame that is fleeting. Yet this is the story that Lo wanted to tell, the one that captured his imagination as an illustrator. You can almost feel the memories bleeding off the page, just as his watercolors do.