A two-week trip to China allows sixth-grader Anna Wang to reflect on her Asian-American identity.
At the end of The Year of the Baby (2013), Anna’s teacher, Ms. Sylvester, invited Anna to come with her to Beijing to help her take home an adopted Chinese baby. In this third title in the series, Anna does just that, leaving for an unfamiliar country almost before she’s adjusted to middle school. Anna’s journey provides an opportunity to consider the question “Who am I,” raised in her social studies class. Very aware of differences of skin and hair color, she appreciates that in China she doesn’t stand out. It’s a strain to speak a language she doesn’t know well, and she misses her family. Her narration clearly conveys the experience of foreign travel from a sixth-grade point of view; it’s light on famous sights and heavy on personal encounters. A friendly hotel waitress invites Anna to her family’s one-room home. She even gets to visit the Lucky Family Orphanage where her own sister once lived, bringing the money she and new middle school friends raised with a fortune-cookie bake sale and baby caps they knitted.
Similar in subject to the author’s Shanghai Messenger (2005) but different in approach, this is just right for middle-grade Anna fans ready for new experiences. (Fiction. 7-11)
- May 2014