Cover image for Just add one Chinese sister
Just add one Chinese sister
McMahon, Patricia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Honesdale, Pa.: Boyds Mills Press, Inc., [2005]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Reading Level:
AD 420 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.8 0.5 86772.

Reading Counts RC K-2 1.4 2 Quiz: 46724.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV875.55 .M38 2005 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Claire and her mother are working together on a scrapbook as they relive their first days and hours together following Claire's arrival from her birth home in China. Claire's big brother, Conor, had kept a journal as he anticipated the day his new sister would arrive, and these entries also become part of their book of memories. They remember how, at first, Claire was scared of her new parents and brother, who all spoke a different language than she was used to hearing. But these foreignersloved the adopted Claire, and little by little, they shared experience that brought them together and made them into a family.

Author Notes

Patricia McMahon is the author of several highly acclaimed books for children. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Joe; her children, Conor and Claire; two big dogs; and too many books.

Conor Clarke McCarthy was born in Boston, spent his early years in South Korea and Concord, Massachusetts, and now attends the Kincaid School in Houston, Texas.

Karen A. Jerome is an illustrator and a fine artist whose books include If Nathan Were Here and When It Rained Cats and Dogs. She lives in Massachusetts.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 2. Similar to Molly Friedrich's You're Not My Real Mother BKL N 15 04, this lively picture book, based on a true story, is about an American family's adoption of a little Chinese girl.\b The story is told partly from the perspective of the girl's older American brother, Conor.\b As the book begins, Mommy and toddler Claire are having fun making a scrapbook about Claire, with photos, papers, and bits and pieces that show how the family went to China to get to know a little girl named Guan Yu and how they brought her home with them and, at Conor's suggestion, added Claire to her name (Claire Guan Yu). Enlivening the family's stories are Conor's journal entries, beginning with his anxiety and jealousy, and then gradually revealing the siblings' bond. The story is in the details, which are honest about Claire's initial fear and, later, her mischief and the joyful family love. Expressive watercolor artwork, in bright hues, depicts the warm and intense feelings. Adoptive families will welcome this. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

McMahon (Chi-Hoon) and her son, McCarthy, recount their family's real-life transnational adoption of a toddler they named Claire. The book unfolds as McMahon and Conor construct a scrapbook, with each item advancing the story of Claire's adoption: A "card with [a] pretty flower on it" acknowledges that "all our papers have gone to China, and we should be happy"; a wooden ice cream spoon commemorates a family outing in Guangzhou; and several pictures of Claire show her very much at home in America (including one in which she is painting the family dog). The mother narrates, supplemented by diary-like entries by Conor, which appear on each right-hand page in italics. Although generally upbeat about the experience, the prospective brother expresses some authentic-sounding anxieties about the new arrival and his new role ("And what about all this pink frilly stuff?" he says, observing guests cooing over a tutu and other items at a baby shower. "I was hoping for a tree-climbing, hockey-playing sister"). Jerome (If Nathan Were Here) chronicles each step of the journal with radiant, soft-focus watercolors that possess a palpable sense of physical and emotional space (although the portraits of Claire are at times uneven). The family's optimism and ebullience shines through as they embrace every event-no matter how exotic or bumpy-that has led Claire to become part of their lives. Ages 5-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 4-This story of an American family's adoption of a Chinese toddler is storytelling at its finest. The narration in two voices begins as the mother shares a scrapbook she compiled with Claire. Big brother Conor reveals his thoughts through journal entries printed in italics in the wide right margins. The omnipresent dog is a humorous and appealing fourth presence. The composition mimics a scrapbook, with multiple images on a page (sometimes designed as photographs) and other travel paraphernalia, e.g., ticket stubs, receipts, and postcards. Jerome's imaginative approach to color and style attracts and sustains interest. A snowy scene in China is impressionistic, bathed in purple. Family scenes are highly saturated with vivid color blends and dramatic contrasts between light and dark areas. The generous white space and lean text allow readers to pace themselves through the moving emotional content. Author and artist are equally adept at creating multidimensional portraits of the children. Conor is, by turn, curious (about how to become a brother), worried, patient, frustrated, and annoyed, but ultimately elated. It is his antics playing "Hotel Ball" with a sock that elicit his sister's first laugh. Claire registers the anxiety of a toddler leaving familiar territory, the giggly countenance of play, shyness in the face of the second round of relatives, and naughtiness when she's comfortable in her new role. All children will recognize and empathize with these delightful people.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.