Leaving China

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Leaving China by James McMullan is the story of the author as a young boy during World War II.

Leaving China by James McMullan is the story of the author as a young boy during World War II. McMullan was born in Cheefoo, China in 1934, and he spent a lot of his childhood moving from place to place in order to either avoid the war, live with relatives, or stay closer to his soldier father. The book is a pretty quick read and, unlike many other historical books, is entertaining as well as informing. Its full-page watercolor illustrations may make it seem more like a children’s book to some readers, but those illustrations are beautifully made and serve to provide details in the story that the text itself doesn’t. They help the story come to life in a way that couldn’t be accomplished simply with the text alone.

The format of the book makes it easy to comprehend and easy to just pick up reading whenever. McMullan’s story is told in increments. Almost like a collection of short stories and recollections drawn straight from his memory. While the book is relatively simple, it would help if readers have at least some background knowledge on World War II in order to comprehend some aspects of the story.

However, the book isn’t just about the war. It’s also about McMullan’s struggles within his family, how he found his interest in art, as well as how his family came to China. McMullan doesn’t use facts as the basis for his writing, he uses what he felt, what he thought, and what he did to inform the reader. I would recommend this book to anyone aged 12 and up who has an interest in learning a bit more about how the children during World War II lived and coped. Leaving China is a beautiful story that many adults and children will doubtless enjoy.