HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Mei Ling Discovers Jack Miner
Author: Jane Buttery
Illustrator: Yolanda Lamoure
Publisher: Truelight, second printing published in 2000
Related website: www.truestorybooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1 (the euphemism “gosh” appears once)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Buttery, Jane. Mei Ling Discovers Jack Miner (published in 1997 by Truelight Books, 3225 McCormick Rd., Harrow, Ont. N0R 1G0 Canada). Do you know who Jack Miner was? John Rogers is a young lad who lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his father Tom, mother Judy, and older sister Kate. At school, he meets a new student, Mei Ling Lee, whose family has recently emigrated from Hong Kong, China, and lives just down the street from the Rogerses’ house. The two are assigned to work together on a class project about any Canadian animal, and they choose to do theirs on the Canada goose. John proposes that the two families visit the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary in Kingsville, about fifty kilometers away, to gather information for their project. However, Mei Ling always seems to be very sad. Does she have some kind of secret about her earlier life in Hong Kong?
Set around 1995, much of this book is fictional, but Jack Miner was a real person, one of the first Canadians to see the need for protecting the migrating ducks and geese. Over ninety years ago, in 1904, Miner set up his own bird sanctuary in southern Ontario. On her visit there, Mei Ling meets his son Jasper Miner, who lived from 1910 to 1997. Not only are there many details about the history of the Miner family and the sanctuary, but there is also plenty of information about the Canada goose. In addition to the drawings by Yolanda Lamoure, a number of old photographs are also used. Furthermore, it is a story of friendship and caring. As the plot unfolds, readers learn more about Mei Ling and the tragedy that made her parents chose a new life in Canada. By the end of the book, Mei Ling completes a good project with John and is becoming happier in her new home.
Rather than being dysfunctional as is found in so much modern children’s literature, the families are portrayed in a godly way. When John comes home from school and has chores but wants to put them off to shoot some baskets, his mother says, “Jobs first, play after.” One professional reviewer sneered, “Although the author does bring in a plug for her Christian faith,” but the fact is that kids need to read about people whose faith in God has guided their lives to do good things. “…It was those tragedies that made Jack Miner turn to his Bible more. Because he firmly believed God wanted people to care for the birds, he befriended them.” Some environmentalists want to “save the planet” because they consider “Mother Earth” almost as a goddess to be worshipped. Proper conservationists seek to protect nature because we are to be good stewards of the blessings which God has given us. Mei Ling Discovers Jack Miner has much to recommend it.