Rummanah Aasi
   This year the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) has created a new book list for students in grades 3 to 5 called the Bluestem Award. Students, teachers, and librarians select a list of books for the award. Students elect their favorite book in April with the help of their teachers and librarians. The book with the most votes will win the award. This is the first year of the Bluestem Award. One of this year's nominees is Grace Lin's The Year of the Dog.

Description: Pacy is told by her parents that the Year of the Dog is a year to find a new friend, "find yourself", and identify your own values. Of course, this is all easier said than done when Pacy starts her journey. Through various events in her life, Pacy discovers her talent and embraces her culture of being a Taiwanese-American. 

Review: I thought The Year of the Dog was a very charming, sweet, and remarkable book. Pacy's childhood adventures of finding new friends, celebrating cultural holidays, and participating in school events are universal. I really liked how Pacy tackles the idea of identity and of being in two cultures, which can be symbolized by the hypen in the two cultures. For me, Pacy's struggles in answering the question, "Who am I?" hits home for me and felt very real. Like her, I have also been the only Asian girl in my class.

    The story is well constructed in 29 short chapters that introduces traditional customs (such as Hong Bao are special red envelopes with money in them, given as New Year's presents), culture and cuisine, and includes several relevant flashback anecdotes, mainly from Pacy's mother. The hand drawn illustrations and the feel of reading Pacy's journal felt intimate and warm. I would highly recommend this book for students who would like to know more about the Chinese New Year.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None.

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies, Art


If you like this book try: The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin or The Project Mulberry by Sue Park
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