We all remember how our lives were interrupted the past few years due to the pandemic. But what about where it all began in China? MORNING SUN IN WUHAN takes readers back to January of 2020 where COVID was first detected.

The main character, 13-year-old Mei and her family are based on Ying’s life experiences living in Wuhan and how she might have dealt with this mystery virus as it put a dark shadow over the town.

Mei is still grieving over the loss of her mother the previous year. An outcast at school she finds life to be much better when cooking or playing Chop Chop, her favorite computer game. Dad is a doctor facing longer hours at the hospital. When the coronavirus spreads and Wuhan locks down, Mei finds herself alone, trying to find a way to help and make a difference in her community. Cooking becomes the perfect choice.

The darkest, most frightening times are brought forth and solidly demonstrate how young people can make a difference. Mei obtains a special pass to go outside and make the short walk to the middle school. There she becomes part of a professional kitchen, cooking meals for the locked down citizens-especially those too sick to shop or cook.

Mei’s favorite recipe’s are included throughout the 208 pages. Here are a few I will surely be trying out:

  • Colorful Egg Fried Rice
  • Thai Red Chicken Curry
  • Shrimp and Vegetables in Lettuce Cups

Morning Sun in Wuhan provides inspiring reading for us now and in the future this story will be a natural choice to educate new readers who may not remember or ever experienced the 2020 pandemic.


  1. Middle graders will naturally be comparing their own experiences to the scenes in the book. In a subtle way, they’ll feel better about the past few years and what the future brings.
  2. Food. I already mentioned a few of my favorite recipes, but you also get a sense of the importance of cooking in the Chinese culture.
  3. The author did a top notch job researching the time period in Wuhan, making the plot so very authentic. Conversations with citizens, videos, and photos were all pieced together to create this compelling story.
  4. The closing epilogue showing the city a year later still in the healing stage of returning to normalcy.
  5. Was not a book I wanted to read as I was not looking forward to reliving that time period. Thank goodness I did. My reward was an inside look at the experience in Wuhan which were much more difficult that I ever experienced.


Ying Chang Compestine is the award-winning author of REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY, winner of ALA Notable Children’s Books, ALA Best Books for Young Adults and Asian Pacific American Award, and California Book Award for Young Adult literature. She had written over 23 books of multiple genres, including MG novels MORNING SUN IN WUHAN and A BANQUET FOR HUNGRY GHOSTS, and numerous picture books, such as THE RUNAWAY WOK, a Scholastic Book Club Choice and CHINESE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES, winner of Bank Street College Best Children’s Book.

Besides writing fiction books, she has also hosted cooking shows, worked as food editor of Martha Stewart’s Body+Soul. She has authored cookbooks, and numerous feature food articles for various magazines, including Cooking Light, Men’s Health, and Eating Well.

Ying is frequently invited to speak at schools and conferences around the world, sharing her journey as a writer, how her life in Wuhan, China inspired her writing, as well as promoting healthy eating and living. She lives in California with her family. (For more about Ying visit the author’s Web Site)


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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to MORNING SUN IN WUHAN

  1. Interesting idea for a book, and nice to try to find some positive in that situation. I believe China is still under really strict lockdown (friends and colleagues tell me terrible stories of their families back home). 😦

  2. Your #5 was exactly how I was feeling when I started reading your review: “Do I really want to go through all that trauma again in book form?” But you’ve made a compelling argument. Maybe it’ll be therapeutic instead of traumatic!

  3. I think a whole lot of folks got into cooking – and sharing their recipes online – during the lockdown. I think sourdough bread experienced a comeback. I think lots of readers will identify with Mei.

  4. msyingling says:

    My students adore this one, and I’ve always been a big fan of Revolution is Not a Dinner Party! I find it interesting to see what other pandemic experiences were– mine was so boring, and I marvel that some people actually saw other human beings! The cooking part was very fun.

  5. What a compelling story! I hope that it emphasizes our common humanity. Love the cooking aspects. Want to read this book! Good to know how popular this book at Ms Yingling’s school!

  6. Brenda says:

    What a wonderful story, glad you enjoyed it so much.

  7. carolbaldwin says:

    This does seem to be a very worthwhile story.

  8. This sounds like a story I’d like, and I’m interested to check out the recipes.

  9. I must admit, I’m reluctant to pick up a book about the pandemic, but you make this one sound really worthwhile. Thanks for the review.

  10. Linda Browne says:

    This is excellent, Greg. I will definitely be picking up this book and I’m eager to read REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY. Talk about a great title!

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