The Year of the Fortune Cookie: Anna Wang, Book 3

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
The Year of the Fortune Cookie: Anna Wang, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Thought-provoking story of tween girl's trip to China.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Readers will learn about Chinese culture along with Anna as she travels to China and observes the city of Beijing. Anna also talks about the adoption process and the Chinese government's policy that limits Chinese families to having only one child (although there are exceptions). Anna learns from a teacher how to write a more powerful essay, and examples are shown of her first and final drafts.

Positive Messages

Be proud of who you are and be interested in others. Don't be afraid to try new things. If you want something, be persistent and keep going after it, even if it seems difficult at first.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Anna continues to be the thoughtful, sensitive girl she was in The Year of the Book and The Year of the Baby. Now in sixth grade, she's also gaining confidence and learning how to be proud of who she is, which makes it easier for her to find friends who understand her. Anna contemplates what it means to be Chinese-American and observes the different ways she fits in America and China and the ways she doesn't, which adds to her empathy for others and helps her understand that no one can be defined by one adjective. Anna also joins a school club whose mission is to help the community.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Andrea Cheng's The Year of the Fortune Cookie differs from many of the books about sixth grade in which girls are plunged into friendship dramas and budding romances and instead focuses on Anna's questions about her Chinese heritage and the background of her adopted sister, who was left at a Chinese orphanage as a baby. In her first year of middle school, Anna makes new friends and becomes more confident. She goes on a trip without her parents for the first time and is homesick, but she stays open-minded about her new experiences in China and learns a lot about herself as well as the country. 

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What's the story?

In THE YEAR OF THE FORTUNE COOKIE, Anna Wang, heroine of The Year of the Book and The Year of the Baby, is in sixth grade. Though nervous about going to a bigger school, she resolves to give new things a try and joins a club called CAT -- Community Action Team. There she makes new friends and discovers that she's good at thinking of ways to help the community. When Anna gets to travel to China to see the orphanage where her sister came from, she gets CAT involved in fundraising and knitting projects. Going to China changes Anna's perspective on what it means to be both Chinese and American, and she gains confidence and empathy as a result.

Is it any good?

The Year of the Fortune Cookie is a refreshing change from the many books about sixth grade in which girls are plunged into friendship dramas and budding romances. Anna instead continues to question what it means to be Chinese-American and broadens her concerns to helping her community and making new friends.

Anna's introspection is believable and never heavy-handed, and her travels in China are interesting and add some tension when Anna is unsure she will be able to accomplish her goal of going to her sister's orphanage. This chapter book is short but satisfying.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the media attention given to the need for children's books with diverse characters. How do you think books like The Year of the Fortune Cookie fit into that discussion?

  • Why do you think a book about an 11-year-old girl was written for younger readers? Do you prefer reading about people your own age, or does it matter?

  • What kinds of ways can you think of to help the community like Anna does in her school club?

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