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