Worth the Candle

On My Way to Buy Eggs By Chih-Yuan Chen Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781933605418
Published: Kane/Miller Book Publishers - March 1st, 2007

When this book won a prize, the judges commented that it would "make children feel there is endless happiness, humor and warmth in their everyday lives." This book is about running an errand.

It is not from around here.

In On My Way to Buy Eggs, a little girl is sent to a "traditional store" in her Taiwan neighborhood. A note in the back explains that these little snack/hardware/drug stores still exist in many lanes-even where modern convenience stores have been introduced. The plot could not be simpler. Shau-yu's father asks her to buy some eggs, and the girl finds some fun in every step of the way to the store and back.

She watches shadows, picks two unnoticed flowers, peeks around corners, and ponders one or two mysteries of the universe. When she finds a pair of glasses, she dons them and pretends to be the lady of her house. The shopkeeper plays right along, but adds, at the end of their transaction, that this busy woman might like to take a piece of gum for her little girl, Shau-yu.

The artwork in which she has all these pleasant adventures is exquisite-yet as plain as an egg. The palette is brown, grey and khaki, except for one glorious spread in which Shau-yu finds a blue marble. Looking through it, the city is suddenly awash in aqua and teal, so that the girl feels as if "the world has become a blue ocean world".

Shau-yu, by the way, means "little fish". And, truly, the world is her oyster.