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Lost & Found

Based on a True Story
by Mei Yu
2024 / 124 pages

Cartoonist and Chinese-Canadian Mei Yu shares the mostly true story of her own immigration experience as a young girl. On arriving in Canada, she is sent to school to sink or swim and there is a lot of floundering early on. Her classmates’ dialogue, spoken in English which she doesn’t yet understand, is shown in a green font, while her Chinese conversations, with her parents and with her stuffed animal, Kitty Paws, are shown in the typical black font. The large amounts of green in the first half of the book gives readers a good idea as to just how confusing it all is for Mei Yu.

This could actually have been a pretty brutal book, what with how scary it is for Mei Yu to be in a country where she doesn’t understand anything. But for comic relief we have her stuffie, Kitty Paws, coming to life to provide her companionship, and to narrate parts of the story. The brightly colored artwork, in its vaguely Manga, far-from-realistic-style, also helps ease the tension. There’s also some comic confusion that lightens things, such as when Mei Yu eats her very first sandwich with chopsticks, instead of holding it with her hands!

We do have to wait quite a while for our hero to finally start feeling comfortable – it takes all the way to page 100 before she begins to be able to communicate with her classmates. But there is a very happy ending, with Mei Yu’s artistic skills helping to bridge the gap between the two languages.


There is a very little bit of potty humor, but not done simply to be naughty. In one early miscue, Mei Yu’s “pee levels” as her stuffie Kitty Paws puts it, are nearing the emergency mark, so she’s desperate to go to the washroom. But in her hurry she ends up in the boy’s bathroom, and then, when a boy comes in, she thinks he’s made the mistake, so she can’t figure out why her classmates are laughing at her.


This is a book every school library should get for how effectively it shows what it is like to be an outsider – this is a book that can help build some empathy. The target audience is elementary, but this would be an interesting read for anyone Grade 2 on into high school. For older kids, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival offers a very different comic book immigration account.

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