The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin. (Grades 3-6)
In this sequel to Year of the Dog, Pacy Lin is facing another new year. The year of the rat is a year for changes and Pacy is not at all sure that she wants anything to change. When Pacy's best friend Melody moves to California, Pacy feels lost. Her other friends at school don't understand her the way Melody did. Worse still, a new family from China is renting Melody's house and Pacy's parents expect her to befriend the social outcast Dun Wei. Pacy's questioning her friendships and her talents (after she learns that being an artist is considered a "cold door"... a career that won't bring much wealth), but if she can make it through the year of the rat, she might find that she herself has changed for the better.
This book is told in the same style as TYOTD with Pacy's relatives interjecting anecdotes about their own lives or Chinese legends. I read this book for the Expanding Horizons challenge. I love the character of Pacy and I think she's really accessible to kids. It's great to find another transitional chapter book that I can recommend to fans of Clementine and Ruby Lu.