Yin Yu Tang \\ Book

Piece by Piece

I feel the sun shining down on me and my smile beams the open sky.
I twirl like the dragons on the window screens, winding and free.
I soar like the sparrows in the courtyard, leaping up to peer over the edge of the pool.
I think of Nainai and anything’s possible

PEM's first children's book, Piece by Piece, tells the story of a young girl named Emmy and her visit to the Yin Yu Tang, the Chinese house at the museum. Emmy Wu loses her beloved blanket, made especially for her by her grandmother, Nainai. Looking high and low, she winds up on a magical journey of discovery and wonder, reminded of both her blanket and her Nainai as she explores all the nooks and crannies of Yin Yu Tang. But will she find her blanket before it’s too late? Remembering Nainai’s wisdom, she has not only good luck but the love of her family, too. Written by Susan Tan and illustrated by Justine Wong, Piece by Piece is published by PEM and Six Foot Press.

Susan Tan in Yin Yu Tang

Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

Susan Tan wanted to become a children’s book writer since the eighth grade. Her love for art and storytelling stems from her grandmother, an art historian. Tan is the author of Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic and Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story. Visit her online at susantanbooks.com.

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Justine Wong is an illustrator and multimedia artist based in Toronto. Piece by Piece is her first illustrated children’s book. When she’s not traveling along Japan’s coastline or drawing in her journal, Wong spends time with her two cats, Kumo and Opal. See more of her work at patternsandportraits.com.

Published by the museum, this well-researched and engaging intergenerational picture book will encourage cultural, architectural, and archaeological curiosity.

— School Library Journal

Press \\ Press Release

Piece by Piece


Piece by Piece is available in the Museum Shop and can be purchased online here.


A special apron-making activity that accompanies the book is also available here.

Try out your new apron with the sweet dumpling recipe found here!

Print out these fun coloring pages taken from illustrations in Piece by Piece.

About Yin Yu Tang

In the late eighteenth century, a prosperous merchant surnamed Huang built the house featured in Piece by Piece in a small village in China called Huang Cun. The village is located in the mountainous Huizhou region, about 250 miles from the city of Shanghai. The merchant called his elegant new home “Yin Yu Tang,” meaning “the hall of plentiful shelter.” A man of literary and artistic taste, he designed the house with the hope of sheltering many future generations of his family.


Many ancient homes across China are being replaced with newer structures. In 1996, the Huang descendants, who were living in other towns, decided that no one in their family would be returning to live in their ancestral village. In order to preserve Yin Yu Tang, the Huang family gave their blessing to move the house to the United States as part of a cultural exchange project with the local government.

A special team worked tirelessly over six years to carefully document, disassemble, label, pack, ship and re-erect the house and its furnishings. With the guidance of curators, architects, structural engineers, stonemasons, carpenters, and timber frame specialists from the United States and China, the house was researched, conserved and restored. Yin Yu Tang, comprised of 2,735 wood components and 972 stones, was fit back together like a giant jigsaw puzzle on the Peabody Essex Museum grounds in Salem, Massachusetts. The house opened to the public in 2003.

Yin Yu Yang gives us a special understanding of how historical and cultural changes in China affect individual people going about their daily lives. We invite you to visit the museum so you, too, can experience the wonder of Yin Yu Tang, rain or shine!

Learn more about the Yin Yu Tang house here, and find details on how to buy Yin Yu Tang tour tickets here.

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