Leaving China

Written by James McMullan
Review by Arleigh Johnson

This illustrated young adult book by the author/illustrator of the award winning picture book, I Stink!, depicts James McMullan’s unique upbringing on a U. S. missionary outpost in China, and his travels to the United States, Canada and India. Forming the first American orphanage for abandoned baby girls in China, James’ grandparents began a legacy and eventually a family venture, The James McMullan Company, specializing in exporting embroidery made by the young Chinese girls they had saved.

James’ parents and grandparents are prominently featured, but also his life throughout WWII and Japanese-occupied China, which his family narrowly escaped. James’ ever changing home base, experiences in different schools, and struggle with his mother’s problems are articulated in a manner that would appeal to ages 12 & up. The detailed artwork on every other page fully represents the complimenting text, and features historically accurate images of James’ everyday life peppered with poignant moments in the family’s history. This is a well-written and beautifully illustrated historical account and offers young readers a look into an unusual setting during a time of war.