The Year of the Baby: Anna Wang, Book 2

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
The Year of the Baby: Anna Wang, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Sweet tale of adopted sibling and her loving older sister.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Anna works on her science fair project and considers the scientific method thoroughly, including the question, the hypothesis, and the conclusion; she strives to come up with her own experiment rather than doing a suggested project from a book as some of her classmates do. A Chinese glossary and pronunciation guide is also included.

Positive Messages

Sometimes a problem is best solved by forgetting about it for a while, rather than obsessing over it. Anna struggles to think up a science fair project while her mother struggles to get baby Kaylee to eat. Each problem is solved by a form of distraction that frees up Anna's creative juices to solve both problems in unique and original ways.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Anna's a thoughtful, considerate girl who loves her family and loves taking care of her little sister. She's a conscientious student who enjoys school and tries to get the most out of each learning experience. Her friend Camille struggles with several school subjects but is always ready to help others and has a ready smile for anyone who needs it. Even Allison, whom Anna had some troubles with in The Year of the Book, has become less antagonistic.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Year of the Baby, a follow-up to The Year of the Book, is a sweet story about an older sister concerned about the health of her adopted baby sister. Anna's full of curiosity about what baby Kaylee's life was like in China, where she was abandoned by her family and left at an orphanage. As in The Year of the Book, Anna is not completely comfortable with being one of the only Chinese students at school, but she admires her friend Camille, who is proud of her Chinese background and is open-minded about the differences of others.

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What's the story?

THE YEAR OF THE BABY picks up the story of Anna some months after the events of the first Anna book, The Year of the Book. Anna's family has adopted a baby girl from China, and Anna's mother is worried because the 15-month-old is not gaining enough weight and refuses to eat much. Anna is much more settled and confident now, with two close friends and no significant conflicts at school. She has a special bond with her sister and wants to help her mother solve the no-eating problem. When her teacher assigns the class a science project, Anna comes up with an experiment that satisfies both her need to be creative and her desire to help her mother.

Is it any good?

Like The Year of the Book, The Year of the Baby is a sweet and honest look at a young girl's everyday worries about family, friends, and school. Anna's perceptive, nonjudgmental way of looking at the people around her gives supporting characters a depth unusual for such a short book. In addition, Anna and her friends' confidence in their ability to work together to solve the problem of baby Kaylee's failure to thrive is refreshing and believable. As in the first book in the series, pen and ink drawings break up the text, making this title a good choice for those new to chapter books.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about books that include a school setting. Why do you think the author chose Anna's science project as a main plot point in the story?

  • This is the second book about Anna, and there's a third coming out in 2014, but each book can stand alone. How does this compare with series in which each book is dependent on the reader having read the previous books? Which kind of series do you prefer?

  • Anna's science project ended up having results in the real world, not just school. Has your school work ever helped you solve a problem at home?

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