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Apple Pie Fourth of July (Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. Children's and Young Adult. Winner (Awards)) Hardcover – May 1, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author and artist teamed for Buzz return for this carefully honed story about a girl's experience as a first-generation Chinese-American. Readers first encounter the unnamed narrator as she looks unhappily out the glass door of her parents' market, open for business even on the Fourth of July. Hearing the "boom, boom, boom" of the approaching parade, sniffing the apple pie baking in a neighbor's oven, she is distracted by the cooking smells from the store's kitchen, where her parents are preparing chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork. "No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July," she tries to explain, and her prediction seems right as the afternoon lengthily unfolds with almost no customers. "My parents do not understand all American things," she reminds herself, "They were not born here." But the evening brings a steady stream of patrons, and the holiday concludes with the family watching fireworks (invented by the Chinese) and eating what else? apple pie. The well-paced text heavily freighted at the beginning and swift by the end reflects the girl's changing emotions and moods. The art resembles cut-paper collage. Chodos-Irvine deploys sharply defined objects in a range of colors and patterns to construct harmonious, forthright compositions that will likely prove inviting to readers of many backgrounds. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-This simply told story explores a child's fears about cultural differences and fitting in with understanding and affection. A Chinese-American girl helps her parents open their small neighborhood grocery store every day of the year. However, today is the Fourth of July and her parents just don't understand that customers won't be ordering chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork on this very American holiday. As she spends the day working in the store and watching the local parade, she can't shake her anxiety about her parents' na‹vet‚. When evening arrives along with hungry customers looking "for some Chinese food to go," she is surprised but obviously proud that her parents were right after all: Americans do eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July. Nighttime finds the family atop their roof enjoying fireworks and sharing a neighbor's apple pie. Done in a "variety of printmaking techniques," Chodos-Irvine's illustrations are cheerfully bright and crisp, capturing the spirit of the day as well as the changing emotions of the main character. This second successful collaboration by the creators of Buzz (Harcourt, 2000) is one you won't want to miss.
Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. Children's and Young Adult. Winner (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1 edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015202543X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152025434
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on August 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Apple Pie 4th of July" combines a story by Janet S. Wong with pictures by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. The story is narrated by an Asian-American girl whose family runs a Chinese restaurant. She is annoyed at her folks for keeping the store open on July 4th: "No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July, I say." But is she right or wrong? Read the book to find out!
The enjoyable story is perfectly complemented by Chodos-Irvine's colorful illustrations, which have an elegantly stylized quality to them. I especially liked the pictures of the family at work in the restaurant. "Apple Pie" is a wonderful story about entrepreneurship, and about how different cultural traditions contribute to the unique mix that is the United States.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jessi Platt on March 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This story is told by an Asian-American girl whose family owns a Chinese food restaurant. The narrator is frustrated and discouraged by the separation of American culture and her own culture. ("No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July, I say.") However, as five o'clock arrives, so do a few surprises.
Wong's simple tale and Chodos-Irvine's striking illustrations combine to form an endearing story about how the combination of different cultures forms the true culture of America.
Reading Level: Grades 1-2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eva Hashemi on November 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Apple Pie 4th of July" (2002) by Janet S. Wong ("This Next New Year","Buzz") could have a multitude of functions in your classroom, depending on the age of your students and your subject. For older students in Language Arts (3rd-5th), this book will provide an example of character development. In this story, a Chinese-American girl tells her Chinese parents that their customers do not want to eat Chinese food on the 4th of July. The girl believes that people only want American food like apple pie on such an American holiday. Her parents continue with their plans of offering Chinese food in their market. Your students will enjoy reading about this girl and discovering whether or not she is correct. You will appreciate the manner in which Ms. Wong develops this character. Since the girl's parents were born in China, this book will function as an introduction to immigration for younger students (K-2). As the girl is living within two cultures, this book will serve you well in a unit on multiculturalism (K-2). You should include in any discussion the colorful illustrations by Margaret Chodos-Irvine and the fact that the girl is dressed in red, white and blue. The illustrations depict a cultural blend of the traditional 4th of July parade and fireworks with Chinese main characters and foods.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amber @ The Musings of ALMYBNENR on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A young Chinese-American girl laments the fact that her family's combination convenience store and Chinese food restaurant is open every day except for Christmas day. Now it is the fourth of July and the nameless girl can hear the commotion of the parade on the street; yet, her family is cooking Chinese food.

Brought up in America, she firmly believes that Chinese food is just not the kind of food one eats on Independence Day. Her family's focus on tradition is irritating her on this patriotic day and she her desire to escape the store increases with each hour that passes as people come and go, buying things like ice and matches to keep the fun of the holiday going.

Apple Pie 4th of July caught my eye when I was searching for children's picture books related to the holiday. The cover pops and the design made me curious about the contents of this book.

With its bit of rhyme, this book is interesting in naming only one character, Laura, the one who makes the apple pie. Janet Wong did not name the main character in the book, which allowed more focus on the story and its message, but I found it interesting that the one character named was never part of the action or pictured.

The young girl, as I will continue to call her, believes no one wants Chinese food on this truly American holiday and she grows grumpier when her parents cheerfully produce dish after dish of Chinese-American cuisine. But in the evening when the store starts filling up with people who are in the mood for Chinese food, the girl realizes that being American has a deeper meaning; her understanding grows further when after the store closes, her family breaks from tradition in a small yet significant way.
Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Heejin Son on November 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Janet S. Wong(1962-) was born in Los Angeles. She graduated from UCLA with her B.A in history and then Yale Law School. She worked at Universal Studios Hollywood as a lawyer. However, she changed her career from a lawyer to a writer for children's literature. Janet has achieved many successes as a result of her career change, and she and her books have received many awards and honors. She has a Korean-American mother and a Chinese-American father, and these three different cultures are shown on her books.
"Apple Pie 4th of July" also shows a different cultural aspect from America in the point of view of young girl. A girl who was born in America could not understand her parents who prepare to sell Chinese food even on 4th of July. She feels dissatisfaction about her parents since she thinks her parents do not understand the America Holiday. She wants to enjoy the America Holiday like other Americans but she is disappointed with the differences of her parents from others. The clear and colorful illustration describes well her feelings through her facial expressions. The girl full of discontent says, "Chow mein? Chinese food on the Fourth of July? No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July." Many children who have a different culture from the major culture where they live sometimes might feel shame or uncomfortable about their own culture. The parents and teachers need to let children whose culture is either the majority or minority know the variety of cultures in the world. In not only various countries, but also different homes in the same country, their own cultures exist. When children read this book, they can think about the diversity of cultures, and the parents and teachers need to guide children to have the correct concept about cultures.
Wong, J. S. (2002). Apple Pie 4th of July. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, Inc.
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