Review policy

I am very happy to review any novel that fits in with the theme of this blog: novels aimed at 9-14 year olds, preferably with a fantasy/ speculative world setting. However, I will make clear in the review that I was sent the book by the publisher and I will write my honest opinion. Please feel free to contact me via Twitter or Facebook, or fantasticreads at gmail dot com.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Review: Year of the Dog by Grace Lin


Pacy is a Taiwanese-American girl growing up in upstate New York. The book opens on the eve of Chinese New Year, the year of the Dog, and her family (older sister Lissy, younger sister Ki-Ki and her parents) are preparing. She learns that the year of the Dog is a year for friends and family, since dogs are faithful and loving, but also a year for self discovery. As Pacy's year progresses, she makes a new friend, discovers more talents and learns from her mum and extended family to value her heritage, but also to be herself.

Pacy is a lovely character, who is conflicted- she feels to Taiwanese to be American, but too American to be truly Taiwanese. There are some great chapters that explore this: for example, another girl's horror when Grace (as Pacy is known at school) wants to try out for the part of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: "You can't be Dorothy. Dorothy's not Chinese!" When her class is entered into an illustrated story writing contest, Pacy can't think of anything to write. She is encouraged to "write what she knows", but with no models of Chinese-American culture (Lin explains in an afterword that when she was growing up, Taiwan was not recognised by the USA) she can't find her story. This is a lesson for all of us involved in promoting children's literature to children: it is so important for children to be represented in the books that they read.

This is a great chapter book for readers 7+, especially, but not exclusively, for British Asian children. I think it would be a useful book to read with children to discuss any mixed heritage. I loved it.

Gong Hei Fat Choi to anyone celebrating Chinese/ Lunar New Year tomorrow!