The Year of the Book: Anna Wang, Book 1

(i)

 

Charming story of lonely, book-loving girl who finds friend.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Anna's reading list alone brings a good deal of educational value to this book, and readers will enjoy picking out the familiar covers of favorites like From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Little House on the Prairie from the thumbnail-size illustrations on the cover. Anna also attends Chinese school on Saturdays, and a short glossary and pronunciation guide with Chinese characters is included. Anna enjoys making things with her hands, and Abigail Halpin's charming illustrations include directions and diagrams that show how to fold won tons, make pictures out of the geometric shapes in Tangrams, and sew a cloth lunch bag.

Positive messages

The healing value of a good book is emphasized, as is the importance of looking beyond the surface of who someone appears to be. Anna is kind to those in need, and her generosity is contagious, often inspiring others to go along with her.

Positive role models

Anna is a sweet and thoughtful girl who eases her loneliness at school by disappearing into the books she reads. Though Anna has been known to "read-walk," she isn't completely oblivious to the world around her: She befriends many adults and often offers comfort when they need it, such as when her teacher's mother is ill or when a man in a wheelchair needs help. Anna is initially mistrusting of Laura's friendly overtures, but readers will understand that this is because she has previously been hurt by the girl.

Violence & scariness

There are hints that the father may be angry enough to get violent or abduct his children, but there are no graphic details.

Language
Not applicable

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.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Andrea Cheng
Illustrator:Abigail Halpin
Genre:Friendship
Topics:Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:May 22, 2012
Number of pages:160
Publisher's recommended age(s):6 - 12

This review of The Year of the Book: Anna Wang, Book 1 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 5 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 May 31, 2012

the year of the book

Families can talk about how Anna thinks of the characters in the books she reads as if they are 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 have worked really hard to master, the way Anna masters making a lunch bag?
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bykateh November 6, 2014

Great book for 3-5th graders

This book is appropriate, fun, funny and descriptive, and in some parts kid-friendly dramatic
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byalyssad1 August 29, 2015
What other families should know
Educational value

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide