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The Year of the Book (An Anna Wang novel) Hardcover – May 22, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Anna Wang Series

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Editorial Reviews


"A gentle, affectionate take on familiar middle-grade issues and the joys of reading."

"Tender . . . Cheng credibly portrays Anna's budding maturity."
Publishers Weekly

"Cheng's telling is as straightforward yet sympathetic as her self-contained main character; and Halpin's often lighthearted pencil-and-wash sketches both decorate and enrich this perceptive novel."
Horn Book

"Readers are led to discover the extraordinary within the ordinary, and to witness how kindness can draw trust and create confidence in a hesitant child."
School Library Journal

"This is a remarkably pithy and nuanced portrait of a fourth-grader and her world, and the streamlined simplicity of Cheng's writing and the brief page count make it accessible."

"The Year of the Book was a pleasure to read and more. This is a novel to treasure and share with every middle-grade reader you know."
New York Times Book

About the Author

Andrea Cheng is the author of several children’s books, including Honeysuckle House, Where the Steps Were, The Bear Makers, and Brushing Mom’s Hair. She teaches English as a Second Language at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. She lives in Ohio with her family. Visit her website at: www.andreacheng.com.

Abigail Halpin is the talented illustrator of several chapter books including Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, 2009), cover artwork for Emma Jean Lazarus Fell In Love (Puffin Books, 2010), The Melancholic Mermaid (Simply Read Books, 2010), Penny Dreadful (Random House, 2010) and The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, Spring 2011). Both illustrator and graphic designer, she lives in New England, a stone’s throw from the Maine coastline.
See her artwork at: http://www.theodesign.com/.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Series: An Anna Wang novel (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547684630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547684635
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Fourth-grader Anna Wang wishes she didn't have to go to school. Not only does school interrupt from her favorite activity --- reading --- her friendships have gotten incredibly complicated, as Anna's best friend, Laura, now spends all her time with a mean girl named Allison. Standing with the crossing guard Ray, Anna wishes she could stay with him rather than "go to the fourth grade playground where Laura and Allison stand so close that there's no space left for me."

Instead, Anna turns to books. Books never reject her. The stories they tell contain scope for the imagination, whether it's the survival tips of Jean Craighead George's MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN (about a boy living in the wilderness with a hawk) or the inter-dimensional adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace in Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME. What they don't tell her is how to stop being embarrassed or how to make people like her.

Author Andrea Cheng deftly captures the viewpoint of a precocious child struggling to bridge the social gap with kids her own age. Anna is very good with adults who appreciate her creativity and encourage her natural talents for art. But she has a hard time making friends with other children, in part because she cannot decode the subtle social cues and demand for conformity that signify group belonging. For example, early in THE YEAR OF THE BOOK, she sews herself a lunch bag out of leftover scraps of fabric from her bedspread. The adults in her life praise her creativity, but the kids make fun of her eccentric choice for accessories. Later on in the book, Anna decides to forego trick-or-treating altogether rather than give into pressure to go as part of a group costume dictate by Allison.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been pondering what to write about this book since I read it a week and a half ago. It is definitely "realistic" fiction. I suspect many girls will like this book, but I haven't been able to get my daughter to pick it up and read it. There are some books that I require her to read since we homeschool, but this isn't going to be one of those books.

When we read books, we read them for a lot of reasons. Gladys Hunt says that reading books helps children learn to savor life. It helps them notice what is "seen, heard, and experienced" (Honey for a Child's Heart p. 21) Books help give children a sense of security (p.22 from the same book) that they are not alone and helps them by encouraging that they can whether storms and failures.
So, I'm left with the question--how does this book impart these things?

For children who are in public or private school, it would definitely give 3rd-5th grade girls the sense that they are not alone in the angst of friendship among girls that age. Or in their struggles of being embarrassed of their parents and families. This book is the story of Anna Wang and her journey through her 4th grade year basically without friends and her struggles with her family. I do think that books like this can plant that idea in kids' heads who don't already feel that way and that isn't a good thing--the idea that they should be embarrassed of their parents or siblings. I am aware that the expression of this embarrassment in this book is mild compared to a lot of contemporary books written for this age group. But, then I look for resolution. What are the lessons learned by the reader by the end of the story? There are implied potential topics of conversation like the friend who's parents separate.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In "The Year of the Book," Andrea Cheng has captured the spirit and emotions of Anna Weng, a girl who loves books. Feeling herself an outsider because of her cultural/ethnic background and economic circumstances, Anna is dealing with the social pressures of fourth grade. She does not belong to the "popular" group; believes she has no real friends; and she thinks others place little value on her creativity or skills.

Anna seeks refuge in her favorite books. In the pages of her favorite books, Anna knows no one will look down on her for having a mother who cleans houses for a living while studying to become a nurse. Books are also a safe haven from lessons at the Chinese school where Anna is to study the language, yet where she also feels like an outsider. It is only when Anna notices a classmate, Laura, crying in the locker room that she begins to understand others are in need of friends, too. As Anna opens her heart to both Laura and to Mr. Shepherd, the man for whom her mother cleans, she finds that she is more accepted by others than she imagined.

Well written and using simple language, "The Year of the Book" can be enjoyed by readers of many skill levels. The book does an outstanding job of capturing characters' personalities and reactions to situations. Realistic scenarios and genuine emotions make this book one that will touch readers and may cause them to examine their own treatment of others.

"The Year of the Book" is an excellent novel for readers of all ages. It would be particularly effective for grades three through five as it addresses personal and social issues faced by children in those grades. The growth Anna experiences and the increased maturity she exhibits provide positive examples for young readers.
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