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The Year of the Dog (A Pacy Lin Novel) Hardcover – December 20, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Pacy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5–A lighthearted coming-of-age novel with a cultural twist. Readers follow Grace, an American girl of Taiwanese heritage, through the course of one year–The Year of the Dog–as she struggles to integrate her two cultures. Throughout the story, her parents share their own experiences that parallel events in her life. These stories serve a dual purpose; they draw attention to Graces cultural background and allow her to make informed decisions. She and her two sisters are the only Taiwanese-American children at school until Melody arrives. The girls become friends and their common backgrounds illuminate further differences between the American and Taiwanese cultures. At the end of the year, the protagonist has grown substantially. Small, captioned, childlike black-and-white drawings are dotted throughout. This is an enjoyable chapter book with easily identifiable characters.–Diane Eddington, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 3-5. When Lin was a girl, she loved the Betsy books by Carolyn Hayward, a series about a quintessentially American girl whose days centered around friends and school. But Lin, a child of Taiwanese immigrants, didn't see herself in the pages. Now she has written the book she wished she had as a child. Told in a simple, direct voice, her story follows young Grace through the Year of the Dog, one that Grace hopes will prove lucky for her. And what a year it is! Grace meets a new friend, another Asian girl, and together they enter a science fair, share a crush on the same boy, and enjoy special aspects of their heritage (food!). Grace even wins fourth place in a national book-writing contest and finds her true purpose in life. Lin, who is known for her picture books, dots the text with charming ink drawings, some priceless, such as one picturing Grace dressed as a munchkin. Most of the chapters are bolstered by anecdotes from Grace's parents, which connect Grace (and the reader) to her Taiwanese heritage. Lin does a remarkable job capturing the soul and the spirit of books like those of Hayward or Maud Hart Lovelace, reimagining them through the lens of her own story, and transforming their special qualities into something new for today's young readers. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Pacy Lin Novel
  • Hardcover: 134 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (December 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316060003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316060004
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,767,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hello! Thanks so much for your interest in me and my books!

I grew up in Upstate NY with my parents and 2 sisters, whom are featured in many of my books, including "Dim Sum For Everyone!" and my novels, "The Year of the Dog" and "The Year of the Rat." My mother and I were the star characters in my first book, "The Ugly Vegetables"--I cut both my sisters out of that story! They were quite upset with me and made me promise never to cut them out again. And since then, I haven't...yet.

While many of my books highlight my family, not all of them do. My Newbery Honor-winning novel "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon," is an Asian inspired fantasy that some people call a Chinese 'Wizard of Oz,' and my early reader "Ling & Ting" is inspired by the old 'Flicka, Dicka & Ricka' books I read when I was young.

I hope you enjoy my books. Please visit my website: www.gracelin.com for more info about them (behind the scene stories and pictures) as well as other amusing anecdotes!

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This year I have decided to read as many really good children's books published in 2006 as humanly possible. This means that I pay particularly close attention to the books my co-workers (other children's librarians) promote loudly. One of the first titles this year that received such promotion was a little politely perfect story by the name of, "The Year of the Dog". So delicate as to come across as almost fragile, this is one of those books that makes stories out of a minimum of words. You will not find any excess to this story. No long-winded exposition or sentences written solely for the purpose of filling the page. Instead, this is a finely honed and delicately crafted title that is bound to be enjoyed by vast hoards of children, should it ever fall into their hands. You job? See that it does.

It's the Year of the Dog, and Pacy has just learned that this is the year she's supposed to "find herself" and make new friends. This means that a person will need a lot of luck, and fortunately she has that in spades. For example, there's a new girl in school. A new girl who's exactly Pacy's age and who, just like her, is Taiwanese-American. Her name is Melody and instantly she and Pacy become best friends. Together, the two experience everything from school tryout and a book contest to figuring out which boy they like and what to dress up as for Halloween. As the year goes by, there's plenty to do and plenty to learn.

What really gives this book a push past other children's books out there is just how kid-friendly it is. Whether she's discussing a science fair project or trying out for the school play, Lin seems to have an uncanny knack for tapping into the heads of children.
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Format: Hardcover
I never heard my Asian-American daughter say these words until she read "Year of the Dog." All the elements of a 4th-grader's life are there - family, friends, school projects, holidays, camp, disappointments, achievements, learning about yourself - and are told with gentleness, humor, truth, and terrific illustrations. We've loved all Grace Lin's picture books, and are delighted that she's now writing chapter books. Hoping for a sequel in time for next Chinese New Year!
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Format: Hardcover
The Year of the Dog would be a GREAT read aloud or literature circle book in second through fifth grade classrooms. Teachers and children can discuss: "What culture(s) are you a part of" and "How do you feel about trying to fit in?" Grace's mom shares wonderful short stories throughout the book to help Grace learn and understand where she is from.

But my favorite thing about this book is that I can use it as a mentor text to teach writing. Grace struggles coming up with a writing idea (as many kids do) and experiences writer's block. She finally realizes that she should write about her own life as a Chinese-American. Grace talks about the many revisions she has to make as she writes her picture book. This book is a must for elementary teachers.
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Format: Hardcover
Grace Lin's debut novel, "The Year of the Dog", centers around a little girl named, well, Grace Lin. The author admits this book is based on her childhood as a budding artist and Taiwanese American growing up in Upstate New York.

"...this is the book I wished I had growing up," Lin relates on the back cover flap.

The clever storyline interweaves old traditions with new ones. The book is structured with stories inside of stories. Interludes such as "How My Name Changed from Pacy to Grace" and "Mom's First Day of School" meld backstory with the plot of a remarkable little girl with a big heart.

What makes this book highly relatable to young girls is the protagonist's real-life quest to find herself. Using the Chinese Year of the Dog as the framework for the story, Lin builds the book around an entire year filled with celebrations, school projects and relationships.

I would have liked to see more external dialogue about how others viewed the little girl, Grace. The author made it sound as if only the protagonist herself was conflicted. I was left wondering if her non-Asian classmates, teachers and community were always as accepting of her as she portrayed them to be. She dismissed this topic by creating her best friend, Melody Ling, the only other Asian-American girl in school.

As a non-Asian American, I found the illustrations enlightening. For instance, Lin depicts her grandmother with her tiny feet which, according to Chinese tradition, had been bound as a child. She shows the picture of a pioneer doll which no doubt had blonde hair and blue eyes. The classic misunderstanding of what both mother and daughter mean by a china doll underscores the painful realization of being caught between several cultural worlds.
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Format: Hardcover
Grace's parents came from Taiwan, so that makes Grace Taiwanese-American. She even has two names; people at school call her Grace while her family calls her Pacy. Taiwan's traditions are important to Grace's family, and one favorite holiday to celebrate is the Chinese New Year. This year they celebrate the Year of the Dog, which symbolizes friends, family and finding out about oneself. Grace vows that this year she will discover new talents and decide what she wants to be when she grows up.

The first surprise of the new year is that another Taiwanese-American girl has joined Grace's class. Grace and Melody quickly become best friends; they have a lot in common with their cultures, but they find a number of differences as well. While Melody can speak Taiwanese, Grace cannot. Though they both eat Taiwanese foods, Melody's family indulges in healthier meals while Grace's family has more junk food.

Grace and Melody participate in lots of activities during the academic year, including the science fair and school play. Grace hopes to find new talents to guide her in life, but so far it doesn't look promising. She does discover things that she doesn't want to do when she grows up, like being a chef or a doctor. But the Year of the Dog is quickly coming to an end. Will she find some answers before it's too late?

Author and illustrator Grace Lin does an amazing job with THE YEAR OF THE DOG. She brings to life a different part of America that many may not be familiar with, the Taiwanese-American culture. Lin's descriptive words really bring her characters' feelings of excitement, fear, disappointment and hope from the page straight into the heart. This humorously touching story, complete with cute illustrations, will entertain any who are lucky enough to read it; they may even learn something along the way.

--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman
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