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Three Names of Me

A Book Review

As the father of three children adopted from China, I have an interest in books focused on adoption. Over the years I’ve read numerous books concerning this pressing topic, and Three Names of Me is definitely one of the better adoption books you’ll find for children. My wife purchased Mary Cummings’ book for our oldest daughter several years ago and presented it to her on her “Adoption Day” two years ago. The book has a special meaning to us, and I’m sure there are other families that can make that claim.

Three Names of Me is a 40-page book with a target audience of upper elementary girls. Since the content is deep and the illustrations are realistic, the book will appeal to some middle school girls as well. My oldest daughter, who is now a teenager, likes both the American and Chinese artwork and thinks the book can be of interest to girls adopted from countries other than China.

Three Names of Me is a story told in the voice of Mary Cummings’ daughter Ada. Ada tells us that she has two other names—the name given to her by the orphanage caregivers and the unknown name “whispered” by her birth mother. The creative story is told sensitively and focuses primarily on Ada’s life in America today. We learn the challenges Ada faces, the details of life she wonders about, and how she likes to spend her time.

I appreciate that the book doesn’t shy away from difficult life circumstances and has a positive tone about adoption, China, and life. Although China is depicted in a somewhat mystical fashion, it is understandable when you consider that these are the thoughts of a little girl thinking about a faraway country she does not remember. It is evident that Ada has loving parents who allow her to explore her past and dream for the future.

The last seven pages of Three Names of Me consists of Ada’s scrapbook. Here Ada tells us more about her life, shares some basic facts about China, and teaches us additional Chinese words. It’s charming and will encourage younger readers to learn more about life in the Middle Kingdom. If the book is read aloud to classes, the scrapbook lends itself to be read and enjoyed by the students.

It is evident that Mary Cummings is an accomplished educator who has been touched by Chinese culture and international adoption. When you add Lin Wang’s ethereal, realistic style of watercolors and drawings, Three Names of Me becomes a great gift for those who are adopting an older daughter or for those who are adopted themselves. I believe my daughter will pick up this book from time to time and grapple with the events of her life as well as express thanks for what she has been given.

Three Names of Me by Mary Cummings. Albert Whitman & Company, 2006, 40 pages. ISBN-10: 0807579033, ISBN-13: 978-0807579039. Hardcover and Kindle available at Amazon.

Image credit: PB110042 by Marc Davis via Flickr.
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Mark Wickersham

Mark Wickersham

Mark Wickersham is the middle school principal at Evansville Christian School in Southern Indiana (United States) where his wife, a 19-year Middle Kingdom resident and ESL instructor, corrects his grammar. Mark taught in Indiana and South Korea before serving as a coach, teacher, or principal in China for 13 years. …View Full Bio

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