What You Need to Know:|
• The ups and downs of fourth grade are explored from the point of view of a young girl, Anna, who is struggling with
shifting friendships and her family's Chinese heritage.
• Anna shares some Chinese words and traditions with readers.
• According to Andrea Cheng's website, in developing this character, she drew from her own life as well as the lives of
her two daughters.
• Readers can practice their Chinese using the Pronunciation Guide at the front of the book.
• There are references to serious marriage issues concerning the parents of Anna's friend, Laura.
• If you would like to make your own drawstring bag, like Anna's lunch bag, just follow the directions on the back
cover of the book.
• Teachers should check out andreacheng.com for ways to use The Year of the Book in their classrooms.
The Year of the Book is a sweet and honest portrayal of a very delicate time of life. Fourth grade is filled with challenges. Friendships change, kids can be mean, and some end up feeling left out. Who am I? What am I good at? Where do I fit in? Whether or not they realize it, these questions are going through the minds of most fourth graders. Readers will relate to Anna, who is feeling all these things and more.
Anna is a thoughtful, caring girl who loves to read. She's crafty, creative, and a good student, but figuring out friendships and feeling comfortable with her Chinese heritage are another story. Her old friend, Laura, is spending more time with Queen Bee, Allison, and that leaves Anna feeling kind of lonely. She's feeling more comfortable with the adults in her life, like Ray, the crossing guard, and Mr. Shepherd, an older widower she visits when her mom cleans his apartment. Anna feels even more isolated because of her background. She's embarrassed that her mom cleans houses, and she's annoyed that her mom still doesn't understand all the nuances of the English language. She sees her brother joining in with other kids, but Anna seems to feel happiest in the company of a good book. Friends like A Wrinkle in Time and My Side of the Mountain are very special, but can Anna gain the confidence she needs to allow some real friends into her life?
This original story would be a great addition to a classroom or home bookshelf. It goes beyond the day-to-day life of a fourth grader and gives readers a first-person account of what it really feels like to be in Anna's shoes. Readers experience Anna's insecurities and disappointments, and later, her accomplishments and her satisfaction. The serene and wholesome illustrations, especially the cover art, contribute to the classic, yet modern, feel of the book.
2012, 160 pages
Books & Reading, Ethnicity/Culture, Family Life, Friendship, Identity, School
• Would you want to be friends with Anna? Why or Why not?
• Why is Anna embarrassed about her mom's job?
• In what ways is Laura a good or bad friend to Anna?
• Why does Allison behave the way she does?
• What do you think is happening with Laura's family? Did Anna's parents react appropriately to the situation?
• Why are books so important to Anna? What are some of your favorite books? What do they mean to you?
• How do Anna's feelings about Chinese school change throughout the story?
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