Thursday, August 9, 2018

SERIES THURSDAY: The Year of.. by Andrea Cheng


ABOUT THE BOOK

When Anna is gifted a copy of The Secret Garden, it inspires her to follow her dreams—maybe she can plant ivy and purple crocuses and the birds will come.  Or maybe what grows from her dream of a garden is even better: friendship. And friendship, like a garden, often has a mind of its own.       In this prequel to Year of the Book, join Anna in a year of discovery, new beginnings, friendships, and growth.

REVIEW

This is an adorable book about a young girl, Anna, who has moved into a new house and new neighborhood and isn't sure where she fits.  But after visiting one of her mother's clients, she's inspired to create her own garden, especially after starting to read the copy of The Secret Garden she's given. But after meeting Laura, a neighbor and possible new friend, Anna discovers that friendship is much more complicated than creating a garden.  She and Laura don't necessarily like the same things for one thing.  Laura loves animals and soccer and Anna loves books and gardens.  Confusion and conflict require Anna to decide what it really means to be a friend and if she and Laura have what it takes to be friends.  Not only is this an sweet story about the challenges of friendship, but it's also about the beauty of gardens, books, and animals.  This is also a book about facing things that don't feel comfortable such as Anna starting at a new school, her mother learning a new language, and Anna and Laura learning to compromise.  A nice diverse title where Anna diversity isn't the main issue but is factor in her life (for example the principal at the school mispronounces her name).


ABOUT THE BOOK

In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated.

When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world.

Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.

REVIEW

Anna Wang is afraid she's losing her friend Laura to Allison and Lucy, but she doesn't know what to do about it.  She's more comfortable with her books and crafting activities.  In addition, her mother's job of cleaning isn't something she wants known because she doesn't find it something to be proud of, despite the fact that her mother is working toward attending nursing school while learning English and how to drive.  Anna struggles to know how to be a friend to Laura when she wants to do other things, especially when it becomes apparent that things are not going well for Laura at home and Laura still seems to prefer Allison.  But gradually, with the help of her family, Anna learns what it means to be a good friend.  Cheng has created a great character in Anna, one that I could really relate to, because I was a lot like her.  While I'm not Chinese American, I could relate to Anna's social awkwardness and love of reading.  I enjoyed reading about Anna's family's Chinese traditions as well.  This is a fun series for young readers about growing up in America while keeping one's own heritage alive and well.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Last year, Anna learned how to be a good friend. Now that her family has adopted a baby girl from China, she wants to learn how to be a good sister. But the new year proves challenging when the doctor warns that the baby isn’t thriving. Can Anna and her best friends, Laura and Camille, create a science project that saves the day? In this heartwarming sequel to The Year of the Book, readers will be just as moved by Anna's devotion to her new sister as they will be inspired by her loving family and lasting friendships.

REVIEW

Anna is excited to have a new baby sister, Kaylee.  But having been recently adopted from China, Kaylee is still adjusting to her new home and life.  Anna's parents are both worried when the doctor tells them that Kaylee isn't thriving and gaining weight the way she should be.  This contributes to a bit of tension at the home.  Anna loves taking care of her sister but doesn't feel her Mom trusts her to be responsible with the baby.  In addition, Anna's younger brother, Ken is having a hard time adjusting to being the middle child.  Also, Anna is struggling to come up with a science fair project.  But with the help of her two best friends, Camille and Laura, and her Grandma, just maybe Anna can find a project and help her baby sister at the same time.  Once again, Cheng has written a realistic story about a child dealing with the realities of her life with Chinese elements blended in smoothly.  A great addition to a fun diverse series.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Eleven-year-old Anna heads off to sixth grade, leaving the comfort and familiarity of elementary school behind and entering the larger, more complex world of middle school. Surrounded by classmates who have their roots all in America, Anna begins to feel out of place and wonders where she really belongs.  When Anna takes a trip to China, she not only explores a new country and culture, but finds answers to her questions about whether she is more Chinese or more American.

REVIEW

Anna wants to travel with her former teacher to China when she picks up her baby, but she's uncertain about going without her family.  At the same time, she's struggling to adjust to middle school.  Her friend, Laura is attending a different school, and although she still has her friend Camille to hang out with, she's not feeling real comfortable.  After joining a school club devoted to doing good deeds, she starts to feel like she's found a place.  As she gets ready to go to China, she and the club raise money to give to the orphanage that gave them Anna's sister, Kaylee. Anna travels to China and has some neat experiences as she connects with her mother's country of origin for the first time and makes a friend.  This book is a fun addition to the series that gives the reader a glimpse into Anna's life as a Chinese American.  A valuable addition to realistic fiction for young readers that has characters with diverse characteristics.


ABOUT THE BOOK

It's summer time and twelve-year old Anna Wang  is writing letters and exchanging English for Chinese lessons with her pen pal Fan in China. When Anna and her friend Andee decide to invite Fan to stay as an exchange student  in Cincinnati, Fan responds in an unexpected way. Through this experience, Anna learns more about family values in today's Chinese culture.

In the fourth chapter book sequel to The Year of the Book, The Year of the Baby, and The Year of the Fortune Cookie, Anna grows her understanding of how to overcome conflict with communication in order to build enduring friendships. With lively and warm illustrations by Patrice Barton throughout.

REVIEW

Anna is both nervous and excited when her friend Fan, from China, comes to stay as a cultural exchange student with Anna's friend Andee.  But she and Andee are determined to help Fan feel like one of them, so they can be 'three sisters'.  But things don't go as smoothly as Anna hoped.  Fan is obsessed with studying, Anna's friend Camille is attending another school for a year, and Anna feels alone at her school.  It also becomes apparent that Fan and Andee aren't getting along which creates tension between all three of them.  But Anna is determined to resolve things with her friends.  I enjoyed reading about Anna and Fan and the way cultures and personal choices differed among the girls.  The conflicts between the girls felt genuine and realistic.  This is a delightful series that makes for both a mirror and a window for young readers.

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