Review: The Year of the Dog

“But my friends didn’t call me Chinese, Taiwanese, or American. They called me Grace, my American name.” p. 19

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The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin.
Little, Brown, and Co, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2006 (my edition 2007).
Realistic fiction, 140 pages + excerpts.
Lexile:  690L  .
AR Level:  4.2 (worth 3.0 points)  .

In the Year of the Dog, Pacy is supposed to find her best friend and figure out her talent.  But what could it be?

The Year of the Dog cover

This is one of those books that I’ve had for a while but didn’t pick up.  I may have been saving it or planning to wait until we got another in the series, I’m just not sure.  Anyway, this story tells about one year in Pacy’s life, starting with the Lunar New Year for the Year of the Dog and ending with the Lunar New Year for the Year of the Pig.

An aspect of this I didn’t expect was how there were stories embedded into the larger narrative, just like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  These stories were realistic fiction instead of fantasy, but they worked the same way and I greatly enjoyed them.  The stories allowed Pacy to be connected even if many of her relatives live far away.

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Review: Celebrate Chinese New Year

“When Asians immigrated to countries like the United States and Canada, they brought these traditions with them.” page 7

Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto and Haiwang Yuan.
National Geographic Kids, Washington, D.C., 2009, my edition 2015 reprint.
Picture book informative nonfiction, 32 pages.
Lexile:  740L  .
AR Level:  3.6 (worth 0.5)  .

How Lunar New Year is celebrated around the world, especially in China.

Chinese New Year cover resized

This is a very comprehensive book.  You could easily do a short unit study using just this text.  The format works for a variety of ages or abilities.  The book is divided into two parts – first the picture book, then the last six pages are mostly text with “More About the Chinese New Year”, a variety of supplemental activities and further information for parents, teachers, or older children.

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Graphic Novel Review: Emiko Superstar

While it definitely shouldn’t be shelved in the children’s section, this coming-of-age graphic novel will appeal to YA readers.

Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Steve Rolston.
Minx, DC comics, New York, 2008.
Graphic novel, 150 pages.
Not leveled.

This is the story of one summer in the life of Emiko, a summer that changed her life.  It starts out like a normal summer.  A coffee shop job doesn’t last, so her mom signs her up for babysitting work.  She meets a girl named Poppy and finds herself strangely drawn to Poppy’s mesmerizing, frenetic, artistic life.

Emiko Superstar cover resized
Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Steve Rolston.

There is a lot going on in this graphic novel.

I want to caution readers that this is definitely for teens.  We found it at the used bookstore in the kids section, and I assumed that it would be okay for N based on other Minx books I’ve read, which were fine for middle grade readers.  Nope!

This is a great book, but the content is intense, and middle schoolers should be discussing it with a parent or teacher.  Mariko Tamaki is better known for Skim, an intense YA graphic novel.

The dramatic opening is a little confusing.  An edgy, artistic girl with one shoe is coming home late at night.  She’s texting her friend and narrates as the images go from her to old photographs.  Chapter two backtracks to early summer.

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Review: Chef Roy Choi

“Trying different foods is a bridge into the many food cultures that make us collectively American.” page 28

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One.
Readers to Eaters, Bellevue, Washington, 2017.
Picture book biography, 30 pages.
Lexile:  710L  .
AR Level:  4.0 (worth 0.5 points)  .

This is the story of Chef Roy Choi, who’s best known for his Kogi food trucks that combined traditional Korean food with popular street foods like tacos or barbecue in a unique and delicious way.

Chef Roy Choi cover resized
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One.

It’s kind of funny that I found this book through the Diverse KidLit linkup.  Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table has been on my wishlist for some time.  But honestly, neither of these books would have been on my radar at all without the internet.

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Review: A Single Shard

“The rice was harvested, and the poor were allowed to glean the fields for fallen grain-heads. It was an arduous, backbreaking task: hours of work to gather mere handfuls of rice.” p. 53

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.
Dell Yearling, Random House Books, New York, 2001.
MG historical fiction, 152 pages plus extra back matter.
2002 Newbery Award Winner.
Lexile:  920L  .
AR Level:  6.6 (worth 6.0 points)  .

This novel follows a 12th century Korean orphan who is happy at first just to scrounge enough food to survive, but gradually becomes immersed in the world of the master potters of Ch’ulp’o, known for their breathtaking celadon ceramics.

A Single Shard

I was first given this book back when it was released and a friend told me I had to read it.  For whatever reason I resisted.  Perhaps because I didn’t care much for historical fiction at the time.  Another reason could have been the nearly all-male cast.  Tree-ear’s world is full of men and boys, with only one female character of any notice.  While it wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test, the characters do come from a wide economic spectrum.

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Review: Outliers

“Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are.” page 285

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 2008.
Adult nonfiction, 309 pages including notes and index.
Lexile:  1080L  .
AR Level:  7.8 (worth 13.0 points)  .

What do geniuses, rice paddies, hockey players, a Korean airline, a small town in Kentucky, and young Jamaican twins have to do with each other?  These topics and more are woven together in Gladwell’s explanation of success.

Outliers

This book goes beyond the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery theory to examine what else can effect our success or failure in life.  Gladwell looks at how community can change health, how Germany jumpstarted the Beatles, what made one Jewish lawyer wildly successful while his father struggled, and what linguistic difference makes Chinese children understand math more easily.

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Review: The Magic of Tidying

“It was this that inspired me, from the age of fifteen, to undertake a serious study of tidying that led to my development of the KonMari Method.” page 2

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
Ten Speed Press, Penguin Random House, New York, 2014.
Adult self-help, 213 pages including index.
Not leveled.

A method for decluttering and organizing your home or office from a famous expert.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up resized

Is the minimalism movement big in other parts of the world too?  In America it’s trendy to declutter and simplify right now.  Book blogging has ironically led to me buying many more books (because I feel such a time pressure when trying to review library books ), and it’s time to downsize the books.

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