The Year of the Book (paperback)
by Andrea Cheng
AR Level 3.6, 3 points
This is the story of Anna Wang, a fourth grade bookworm. She is a quiet Chinese-American girl whose mom speaks Chinese, but whose father does not. She begrudgingly (at first) attends Chinese school on the weekends, and is embarrassed about her mom being a house cleaner and not having a driver’s license, and her dad working at a liquor store. Some of the other girls at school exclude her and make her feel bad for not having the most fashionable clothes, but Anna puts on a tougher exterior, even though it bothers her inside. Anna is happy sewing, making paper airplanes, or painting, but is happiest when reading. Laura is a girl in her class whose family has problems, and Anna becomes a good friend to her, even if Laura wasn’t always a good friend back.
I picked up this book because I judged it by it’s cover. There is a picture of a tree with two girls and a bunch of very familiar titles and book covers on it. Book covers on a book cover. A book about a girl who reads books. Sounds like me as a child (the victim of bullying and all). There were book references in it, but it wasn’t quite what I expected.
What I liked about this book was the way Anna was able to be who she was without stooping to the level of her bullies. She valued her books and her culture, and knew her priorities, even if she was in a “stage” that was difficult for her mother. Also, the DIY on a drawstring bag was super cute and appropriate for a third or fourth or fifth grade girl. While it is a much lower level than most of my class, I know a few girls who may enjoy the creativity and DIY aspect!
What I didn’t like about this book was that it wasn’t very memorable. It was a super fast read (being at a third grade level). There wasn’t a whole lot of substance to it, and things the author could have written about to make more of an impact were danced around. It makes sense. I’m not faulting her for that, because it is written to younger children. It was a good portrayal of bullying that goes on in school, which is important to see for all ages of girls.
Book 15 of 52