From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Lucy knows that sixth grade is going to be the best year ever: she finally gets her own room now that her older sister is off to college, and she and her friend Madison are ready to rule the basketball courts. But Lucy's parents put a glitch in those plans when her father returns from a business trip to China with Lucy's great-aunt, who will visit until Christmas. Lucy again has a roommate, and resents this elderly lady who does not speak English and cooks only Chinese food for a family used to pizza and burgers. To make matters worse, her parents insist that she attend Chinese school on Saturday mornings, which means forgoing basketball practice. She is busy with her suburban American life and doesn't feel the need to converse in Chinese or to dwell on Chinese traditions. Slowly, though, she comes to appreciate all that Yi Po has lived through and the quiet ways that her great-aunt shows her love for the family. When Lucy is bullied by a popular girl, she thinks about what her brother told her about Yi Po's life during China's Cultural Revolution and determines that she will act with similar courage and conviction. Lucy is an engaging character, and Shang skillfully weaves in Chinese history and legend as she brings the relationships between Lucy and her family and friends to life. Fans of Grace Lin's Year of the Dog (2006) and Year of the Rat (2008, both Little, Brown) will enjoy meeting this feisty protagonist as she learns to dismantle some walls she has built around herself.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Lucy planned on having the best sixth-grade year ever. Her perfect older sister is going to college, so Lucy, about to turn 12, will finally have her own room to decorate with the help of her best friend and fellow basketball teammate, Madison. Instead, she gets Yi Po, her beloved late grandmother�s long-lost sister from China, who is coming to visit for half the school year and will be sharing Lucy�s room. Lucy doesn�t even speak Chinese, something her sister constantly belittles her about: You�re a banana, a Twinkie, white on the inside. In protest, Lucy builds a wall of furniture that separates her side of the room from Yi Po�s and vows she won�t like her great aunt. Shang�s solid debut wonderfully captures the seemingly unbearable unfairness of being a tween balanced between two cultures. Lucy�s struggles and frustrations are realistic, and her experiences take her from stubborn resistance to pride in her Chinese heritage. Readers will find her transformation thought-provoking, funny, and incredibly heartwarming. Grades 4-6. --Courtney Jones