Mei Mei, Little Sister: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage 

by Richard Bowen

Introduction by Amy Tan

(144 pages, published by Chronicle Books in 2005)

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Chinese believe an unseen red thread joins those in this life who are destined to connect. For photographer Richard Bowen, that thread led him to China’s state-run welfare institutions, where there are thousands of children, primarily girls, growing up without families to take care of them. Mei Mei presents a poignant glimpse of just a few of these remarkable children. Composed against neutral backgrounds, these portraits capture the girls inner lives, away from their often bleak surroundings. The images show an almost endless range of expressions: small faces filled with longing and hope, joy and sadness, humor and mischief, defiance and despair. Through the camera’s eye, these young children are no longer orphans, but individuals whose personalities are as vital, distinct, and beautiful as any mother’s child. When that unique human being comes into focus, the connection is made and the red thread becomes visible. And once seen, the bond can never be broken. Find Mei Mei: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Bowen, with his wife and other adoptive parents, founded Half the Sky Foundation, which seeks to enrich the lives of children living in Chinese orphanages. A director, producer, and director of photography in film and television, his credits include Cinderella Moon, In Quiet Night, The Little Rascals, The Wizard of Loneliness, Head Above Water, Article 99, Belizaire the Cajun, Flags of Our Fathers, The Kite Runner, Wyatt Earp, Havana, and Deep Rising. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Jenny and two daughters, Maya and Anya.