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Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear Paperback – January 1, 1994

3.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Yang Family Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Newly transplanted to Seattle from his native China, nine-year-old Yingtao is a tone-deaf thorn among musical roses. His parents--professional musicians both--assume the problem is lack of practice and chide him for playing baseball (he's a natural) when he could be rehearsing with his virtuoso siblings for an upcoming family recital. When Yingtao hooks up with a new friend from school, a boy as talented musically as Yingtao is athletically and whose parents have put him in an opposite predicament--the boys scheme a "lip-syncing" violin switch for the recital quartet that finally opens the eyes of both families. Peppered with wry commentary on the often baffling experience of adapting to a new country and a new language, Beijing-born Namioka's fresh and funny novel serves up a slice of modern, multicultural American life. Her comic timing and deadpan delivery are reminiscent of Betsy Byars, and her book will leave readers begging for more. Dekiefte's keenly observed black-and-white sketches evoke a maximum of expression with a minimum of intrusion. illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-- Poor Yang Yingtao. From the moment he was born, nine years ago in China, his parents expected him to be as talented as his siblings and complete the family string quartet. The trouble is, he's tone deaf, but his family won't believe it. He knows he will let them down at the upcoming recital for his father's music students, when the string quartet is supposed to play a grand finale, impressing the audience with Father's skill as a teacher. The stakes are high. Yingtao's family has recently immigrated to America and his father, who plays violin for the Seattle Symphony, desperately needs more students to augment their meager income. Yingtao's friendship with curly haired Matthew eventually saves the day. Matthew's family regards his love of the violin with suspicion, wishing he would work harder at baseball. Joining Matthew at practice, Yingtao discovers he's a natural athlete. Namioka uses their growing friendship to explore cultural differences and the problems of adjustment to a new society with a light but sure touch. Warm, humorous black-and-white sketches illuminate each character with casual, but astute, perception. Simpler and less incisive than Bette Bao Lord's In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (HarperCollins, 1984), which is set in an earlier era, this multicultural music and sports story will have a broad appeal for young readers. --Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Series: Yang
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440409179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440409175
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is very funny and enjoyable. I read it just after it was published. My brother doesn't want to read it, but that's because he's a Nintendo addict. I wish he'd try it because he plays the violin and is almost as bad at it as Yingtao is. Young readers and young musicians will love this book, and kids who don't like to read should give it a chance-they'll like it too. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
Being the youngest member of a talented family can be a hassle. You're constantly compared to your older siblings. It's difficult to get any respect. You struggle just to get your voice heard. Yingtao, the youngest member of the Yang family, has it even worse though. Not only are all his older siblings talented in the ways of music, but his mother and father have dedicated themselves towards the art and find the notion that Yingtao is tone-deaf inconceivable. How could this happen? Whatever the cause, the family has bigger issues than their youngest child. They've moved to Seattle from China and money is a constant concern. Yingtao, meanwhile, befriends a boy named Matthew at his school who's problems are the exact opposite of Yingtao's. Where Yingtao only wishes to play baseball and is instead forced to practice the violin, Matthew is forced to remain on the baseball team while in his heart he years to play a fiddle of his own. By putting their heads together, the two boys come up with a plan that will free them both from their family's expectations. IF they can pull it off.

Lensey Namioka skillfully pilots a potentially tricky plot into easy reading territory. Kids who are comfortable with chapter books but still shy away from 500 page fantasies may find comfort in this unprepossessing little story. Yingtao is a likable narrator, describing his inability to play the violin in tune with humor and resignation. He obviously knows his family very well and is far more forgiving and far-sighted than they are when it comes to individual flaws. Namioka handles the contemporary Chinese immigrant experience with a sure hand. There's a great moment where Yingtao and an Asian-American student have a serious miscommunication as to the origins of the other.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first and still the best in a series about a Chinese family of musicians who immigrate to Seattle. Told by the 9-year-old youngest member of the family, it's a story about a boy who doesn't quite fit in with his family and is learning to fit in with an entirely new culture. Very well-written at about a 4th grade level, it introduces aspects of both Chinese and American culture without being "teachery" or preachy. It's a little dated, but the characters' feelings and reactions are timeless.
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Format: Paperback
In this boook, Yingtao Yang has a very very talented family. He has two sisters and one brother. Both his mother and his father played in an orchestra back in China where they lived before moving to Seatlle Washington, where this book takes place. Yingtao Yang plays the violin. Yingtao's brother,(Eldest Brother) and father also play the violin. His oldest sister,(Second Sister) plays the viola and his ten year old sister,(Third Sister)plays the cello. His mother plays the piano. Everyone in his family has a very very good ear. Except Yingtao. His father now taeches violin when he isin't in the orchestra. He is an altrnate in the orchestra.Yingtao's father says at his recital there will be a string quartet with all the Yang children, as the last peice,and Yingtao is afraid he will ruin the recital with his screechs on his violin. Then he and his new best freind, Matthew Conner who likes to play violin, do something very dangerous and sneaky at the recital..............
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Format: Paperback
This book is great! My students and I have enjoyed it. It is funny and yet serious. There are many topics for discussion. I will definitely be reading it to next year's class.
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Format: Paperback
When I read the first page,I roared with laughter.The whole Yang family had an ear for music except Yingtau,the youngesr Yang in the family.Poor Yintau.He tries to play his instrument,the violin.Soon,he got to know a friend,Matthew who knows how to play base ball and is a beginner in music.Yingtau learns to play baseball and loves the game very much.Yingtau's father is having a recital to encourage children to come to his music class.But Yingtau is afraid that his screeching violin will ruin it.I feel very desparate for him and I wish that I could take a famous violinist and put it in his place.But I wouldn't tell you what happened after this.
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Format: Paperback
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear is a great book for teaching cultural diversity, acceptance, family values, and commitment. The novel is geared for students in grades third through fifth. I enjoyed how the plot unfolds as each character is developed. I appreciated the author's use of weaving American and Chinese customs into the story. Readers will sympathize with Yang as he tries to please his father through deception. I enjoyed the book.
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A Kid's Review on November 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Yang the Youngest is a boy who wants to play baseball, but his parents want him to work on his violin playing. The only problem is that Yang has a terrible ear and isn't good at music. Yang's friend Mathew wants to play violin, but his parents want him to play baseball. I didn't like the book because I like books with battles, nature and history in them. This book didn't have any of those.
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