Mr. Chung Lee is a retired restaurant cook who buys one lobster a month with his old age pension cheque, takes the lobster to the seashore, and releases it into the sea. This book, a PEI favourite, was originally published in 1992 by Annick Press, but it has since gone out-of-print. New illustrations and fresh text will make it a favourite for a new generation of Islanders. This story won the L. M. Montgomery Children's Literature Award in 1990.
Chronicle Herald Review of Chung Lee Loves Lobsters:
Chung Lee Loves Lobsters by Hugh MacDonald, illustrated by Glen and Perri Craig (Acorn Press, 24 pages, ages 4 to 8, $9.95)
Bizzer and his big brother Wally have a mystery on their hands.
Every month, Chung Lee, an elderly man who used to be a cook in their family’s restaurant, comes in to buy a live lobster.
“Mr. Lee loves lobsters," Mrs. Moore explains after he pays with his meagre pension cheque and puts the lobster in his cooler.
Intrigued, the boys follow Mr. Lee as he heads toward the water with a picnic basket. As they watch, Wally, who’s 10, explains to five-year-old Bizzer that Mr. Lee came to P.E.I. from China and cooked in the restaurant for 35 years.
He also explains that Mr. Lee doesn’t have much money, just an old-age pension, which is “money for being old."
Eventually, to the boys’ astonishment, Mr. Lee pulls the still-living lobster from his basket, wades into the water and lets it go. When they rush out of hiding to warn him that his meal is escaping, Mr. Lee explains why each month he gives a lobster its life.
First published in 1992, Chung Lee Loves Lobsters is written by P.E.I.’s official poet laureate, Hugh Mac-Donald. It was recently republished by P.E.I.’s Acorn Press, with new illustrations by Glen and Perri Craig (she illustrated A Nova Scotia Lullaby) and fresh text.
Winner of the L.M. Montgomery Children’s Literature Award when it was first published, this little book has a lot of things to recommend it. Wrapped inside the fast-paced little mystery are ideas that will give young readers some gentle insights into another culture and another generation as well as respect for living creatures.