Review: YEAR OF THE BOOK, YEAR OF THE BABY, YEAR OF THE FORTUNE COOKIE, and YEAR OF THE THREE SISTERS / by Andrea Cheng

The Year of the Book / by Andrea Cheng (An Anna Wang Novel)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2012)     ISBN     9780547684635

The Year of the Baby / by Andrea Cheng (An Anna Wang Novel)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2013)   ISBN     9780544225251

The Year of the Fortune Cookie / by Andrea Cheng (An Anna Wang Novel)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014)     ISBN     9780544105195

The Year of the Three Sisters / by Andrea Cheng (An Anna Wang Novel)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 7, 2015)     ISBN     9780544344273
INT     Grades 2-4     Rating: 5

yr book yr baby yr fortune cookie yr 3 sisters

Andrea Cheng kicks off a series for middle grade readers featuring Anna Wang and her friends.

In The Year of the Book, fourth grader Anna Wang — an American-born Chinese – attends Chinese School on Saturday, where she struggles to learn the language. She turns to books for companionship when her best friend starts hanging out with other girls. Anna discovers that friendship is complicated but rewarding if one takes the time to be a friend to others.

In The Year of the Baby, Anna’s family adopts a baby girl from China. After learning last year how to be a good friend, Anna wants to be a good sister to baby Kaylee, who doesn’t like to eat and is failing to thrive. Nothing seems to work until Anna and her friends create a science project that helps Anna’s baby sister.

In The Year of the Fortune Cookie, Anna travels to China with her teacher who is adopting a baby. She has always wondered whether she is more Chinese or more American. Her trip will give her a chance to find out.

In The Year of the Three Sisters, Anna’s pen pal from China – Fan  – comes to America as an exchange student. Anna’s friend – Andee  – hosts Fan and make the arrangements for the exchange. The girls find out that although they are different from one another, they are also very similar, like sisters.

Cheng pens a character-driven school (and family) series that readers will enjoy. One sees Anna grow from a fourth grader to a middle schooler. Cheng does an excellent job in presenting Chinese culture from the viewpoints of both American-born and Chinese-born characters. Cheng tastefully weaves issues of adoption, learning differences, first-generation immigrants, and cultural stereotypes within engaging storytelling.

A pronunciation guide for Chinese words (written in characters and letters), recipes for making fortune cookies and bao zi (a type of bun), and directions for making a drawstring bag are included. Titles of familiar books (A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web, and so on) read by Anna are mentioned, and the pen-and-ink illustrations add greatly to the delight of reading these books.

Recommended for school libraries and public libraries.

Carol R. Gehringer

—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.

Disclaimer: Book reviews are my opinion of books I either purchased or received free of cost from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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