Book Review – Little Jiang

Mei’s teacher at Honeywood Primary School thought it a very imaginative story and the class were silent when Mei told them about the hungry ghosts she saw everywhere in this Hungry Ghost month when ghosts did exactly as they pleased. Even coming to sit in the front row at school. She didn’t tell the class of her other worries about her sick mother and her parents’ failing restaurant.

When Little Jiang appears, arms stretched out in front and hopping so oddly, the school children (of all different backgrounds) welcome him because they had been taught to respect all peoples. Well, some had learnt that. Others, like Jimmy, remain mean to both Mei and Little Jiang.

Mei is alarmed for she has seen Little Jiang’s reanimation tag, his bloodcurdling smile, his green fangs, and she has smelt his disgusting smell. It was the smell of Dr Heckyll’s morgue next to her family’s restaurant and the reason why it was struggling.

After Little Jiang follows her home, the frozen body of Nigel the cat skinner is found and taken to hospital. The alarm is raised, more bodies are found frozen, the restaurant is still failing and the ghosts plan to come for her mother.

Mei learns to immobilise Little Jiang by sticking a talisman to his forehead, but what must she do next to quell the ravenous ghosts? And will Jimmy, who loves Kung Pow Chicken and hates smashed avocado, come and help her? And can they trust the Peony Princess with the fox’s tail?

A riotous children’s read for Xmas from Shirley Marr, illustrated throughout by Katy Jiang and published by Fremantle Press.

* This review was written by Christine Owen