A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Year of the Book is a story about a lonely girl who reads books as a substitute for companionship and as a protection against some of her classmates who are mean and manipulative. Anna's friend Laura's parents are getting a divorce, and there are hints that the father may be angry enough to get violent or abduct his children, but there are no graphic details. Some of the children in Anna's class have misconceptions about what it means to be Chinese.
What's the story?
Anna loves to read more than just about anything. She almost doesn't even mind that she has no friends at school, because she can always count on her books and her adult friends -- the crossing guard, her teacher, the elderly man in a wheelchair whose apartment Anna's mother cleans. But when her former friend Laura reaches out to her, Anna learns that taking a chance with people her own age is important, too.
Is it any good?
In simple and honest language, THE YEAR OF THE BOOK perfectly captures the comfort that books can bring to a lonely life. Though Anna wishes the girls in her fourth grade class were more accepting of her differences, she also wishes they would just leave her alone so she could read the next chapter.
Anna is an appealing character whose struggles to accept her family's Chinese culture are believable, as is her reluctance to trust Laura, who's let her down before. Anna's eventual embracing of some of the differences that make her stand out from her classmates is empowering and may inspire readers to recognize the strength that comes from standing up for who you are. Sweet line drawings break up the short text, making it a delightful and quick read.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Anna thinks of the characters in the books she reads as if they're friends. Are there any characters you've met in a book that you would like to have as a friend?
Anna says that she and her little brother remind her of the main characters in A Wrinkle in Time. Have you ever recognized yourself in a character you've met in a book?
Is there something you've worked really hard to master, the way Anna masters making a lunch bag?
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