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Stephan Molnar-Fenton talks about An Mei

I began writing An Meiís Strange and Wondrous Journey one year to the day after I returned from China with my daughter, Angelica-Tao An Mei. The book was to be a gift to her and all the wonderful people I had met in China.

But in truth the origin of this book goes back over eighty years; to February 1917, to be exact. For it was in that year that my grandmother, with her two small sons, my father and his brother, fled the pogroms sweeping across Russia and journeyed to America.

However, World War One was still being fought, and their journey was long, circuitous, and dangerous. After several weeks the freight ship they were traveling on docked in Shanghai, China, and abandoned its passengers. My grandmother was penniless; her children were starving. She sold the beautiful tablecloth and eight matching napkins that she had spent many months hand-embroidering. And then, when the money she had received was exhausted, she cut and sold her flowing red hair to a local doll factory.

As children, we would be told this story, and it never failed to frighten and astonish usófor us my grandmother was the first superhero. But the story always ended with the same lineóthat one day one of her grandchildren would journey to China and return with my grandmotherís hair.

Little did I realize at that time that I would be the one to journey to China. The first morning I arrived in Beijing, I searched the air of the Tiananmen Square for strands of my grandmotherís beautiful hair. The next day in Wuhan, I met my daughter, An Mei, and we began our long journey home.

Stephan Molnar-Fenton, AuthorStephen Molnar-Fenton, Author/Adoptive Parent, is active in a number of adoption organizations and, as an attorney, has represented a number of American families adopting children from China. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Vivienne Flesher, IllustratorVivienne Flesher, Illustrator, has traveled extensively in the Far East. She has won gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators and has illustrated several picture bookss, including Lullabye Raft by Naomi Shihab Nye. She lives in Sausalito, California.