From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—Sharon and Mary can't believe their parents' decision to send their two-year-old brother to China. He'll spend a year with their grandparents, who will care for him and teach him Chinese with the help of aunts, cousins, and neighbors. His parents reason that "it's only one year" and everyone here is busy going to work or school. Di Di leaves, and the sisters keep his memory fresh by placing photos of him in an album chronicling his time in China. As months go by, the girls spend less and less time thinking about him. They're embarrassed to tell their friends what their parents have done. When Di Di returns, he doesn't remember them or English words, and Sharon worries he doesn't like them anymore. This slim novel opens a window into a unique cultural experience while showcasing the similarities of families. A pronunciation guide and glossary assist readers with the Chinese words, and black-line illustrations complement the text. An author's note explains that this family's experience is similar to that of many Asian immigrant parents who send a young child to their home country to stay with family members while they make a new life in America and work or attend school to provide a better future for their children. This novel illuminates a family's love and sibling dynamics and will be embraced by many young readers.—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego
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Although she sometimes finds him troublesome, fourth-grader Sharon can’t bear the idea that her two-year-old brother, Di Di, will spend a whole school year with relatives in China while she and her first-grade sister, Mary, go to school and her parents work. Time passes faster than she expects, as she and Mary forge a new relationship by building a dollhouse and playing school after homework is done. Di Di returns in the summer, and after a period of readjustment fits back into the family. Soon he’s off to preschool himself. While it is not atypical for immigrant families to send children to relatives, it is an unusual subject for a chapter book. The first-person narrative opens up Sharon’s conflicted feelings, and it is clear that what is best for Di Di is not easy for anyone, including her parents. Realistically, the fitting-back-in period is even more difficult than the absence. Supportive black-and-white illustrations and a glossary/pronunciation guide for the occasional Chinese words and phrases complete the appealing package of this gentle family story. Grades 2-4. --Kathleen Isaacs