I’ve really blown this whole Asian Pacific Heritage Month thing. I started out well at work at least, updating a bibliography of newer kids’ books and setting up a display to highlight those titles. But on this blog here, bupkus. Not that there wasn’t great inspiration at Fusion Stories from some fellow bloggers. Not that I wasn’t reminded of Fusion Stories from Biblio File. Oh well. I’ll give it the last week of May, starting with a repeat of a post I did in February.
In Grace Lin’s book, The Year of the Rat, Pacy is celebrating Chinese New Year with her family and cousins and learning to expect a year of great changes. Unfortunately for Pacy, one of these changes will involve the loss of her best friend when Melody moves away. Pacy is distraught, and sees the new Chinese family that takes over Melody’s house as the enemy. It doesn’t help when the new boy, Dun-Wei, is instantly linked to her at school as the only other Asian kid there. She doesn’t want to like him and resents being thought of as friends just because they are both Chinese. Pacy also finds it hard to fall back into sync with her old friends, now that Melody is gone. How will she make it through this year of changes?
The Year of the Rat is as wonderful as Lin’s first book in this series, The Year of the Dog. The reader can identify with the childhood crisis of a best friend moving and can root for Pacy and Melody to keep up their friendship long distance. Lin weaves in elements of Taiwanese-American culture, including Pacy’s questions of identity as Chinese, Taiwanese, or American. For kids who want to learn more about customs maybe after coming off a school-sponsored, Chinese New Year extravaganza this book will take them far while being a pleasant journey all the way.