The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
Grades 3-6. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Review copies provided by my public library.
Anna Wang wishes that she didn’t have to go to school. Not only does school take time away from Anna’s favorite activity - reading - but Anna’s having friendship problems this year. She HAD a best friend last year: Laura. But suddenly everything is different this year. Laura’s started hanging out with a girl who’s kind of a mean girl and now Anna doesn’t have anyone to play with at recess or talk to during the day.
But even though Anna doesn’t have friends, that doesn’t mean that she’s alone. Anna always had a book by her side and that makes her feel a little less lonely. She can go on adventures in the wilderness with My Side of the Mountain or travel through time and space with A Wrinkle in Time. Anna reads SO MANY books this year, that that’s why this book is called The Year of the Book!
But even in this year of the book, reading isn’t everything and Anna will have to figure out her friends at school. Will Anna find a new best friend? Will Laura get sick of hanging out with mean girls and give Anna another chance?
I loved this book because Anna reads so many great books during her “year of the book” and I thought it was really neat to see what she thought about all these books. Since I love to read just like Anna, I have something in common with her.
This is also a great book for anyone who’s ever sometimes had trouble with friends (which is probably all of us!) or anyone who likes to read books that are character-driven, so books with a character you really get to know and love.
Books in the Series:
1. The Year of the Book (2012, 146 pages)
2. The Year of the Baby (2013, 176 pages)
3. The Year of the Fortune Cookie (2014, 176 pages)
4. The Year of the Three Sisters (2015, 160 pages)
Why I Love Them:
Girl, Anna Wang knows angst like no elementary schooler knows angst. But in a good way. In the first book, we get to know Anna who is having trouble with friends and is feeling lonely a lot of the time. I found Anna to be so delightfully realistic - having those moods sometimes where you don't want to do ANY of the things you should be doing, but you can't really think of anything you WANT to do either? Yup.
Plus, Anna is a reader. I am also a reader. It was delightful to read about the books that Anna was discovering and reminded me of when I discovered those books as a child. This is definitely a series that speaks to kids who are readers.
And, while Anna struggles somewhat with her cultural identity, that's not the entire focus of the book. Anna goes to Chinese school, her family adopts a baby from China in the second book, and Anna welcomes a Chinese exchange student in the last book. Although I wouldn't call this a series about Anna's identity as a Chinese-American kid, details of her life are definitely there and feel realistic.
Add it to the list: another series I enjoyed!