THE YEAR OF THE RAT
Boston : Little, Brown, 2008
IL 3-6, RL 5.5
The first twelve animals to arrive at the Emperor’s celebration became the twelve animals in the Chinese New Year cycle. Since the rat finished first, his year symbolizes new beginnings – fresh starts. But fresh starts mean changes, and for Pacy that change comes unexpectedly when her best friend Melinda moves across the country to California. Changes in her friendships, family, and school challenge Pacy to discover that though things in life change, they can still be wonderful. (Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards Program, 2009-2010)
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin is a story of a Chinese-American girl living in up-state New York. It starts on Chinese New Year, welcoming in the year of the dog. It is supposed to be a lucky year for Pacy whose American name is Grace. She also learns that it is the year that people are supposed to find themselves. Through the year, Pacy has many ups and downs such as making a friend who is also Chinese-American and being rejected by other Chinese-American girls for not speaking Chinese. Overall, Pacy experiences school, a science fair, and the school play just like any other kid and comes out on top.
I chose this book because Chinese astrology is interesting to me, but also because books about the American experience through non-mainstream cultural lenses are often not taught and sometimes hard to find. Pacy says it best when she can't find any books in the library that reflect her experience: "But I wanted a real Chinese person book…One with people like us—Chinese-Americans."
This book also relates the strong cultural value of story telling. Many of the chapters have embedded stories of Pacy's family members telling stories about similar life experiences in Taiwan. Not only does the reader get a straight narrative about a young girl, but many hilarious stories that span several generations. In this way, Pacy's story becomes a family story, in contrast to most individualistic western narratives. This is a great book that entertains, and it also includes small, humorous illustrations. (Aja Henriquez, email@example.com, college student)
Taiwanese Americans -- Fiction.
Chinese New Year -- Fiction.
Schools -- Fiction.
Identity -- Fiction.
Family life -- New York (State) -- Fiction.
New York (State) -- Fiction.