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

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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
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547684630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547684635
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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:

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:

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 56 customer reviews
This is a great book for anyone of any age.
In "The Year of the Book," Andrea Cheng has captured the spirit and emotions of Anna Weng, a girl who loves books.
My 9 year old and I read this book together and loved it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on June 4, 2012
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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Anne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2012
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fran46 VINE VOICE on April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a retired educator, I would recommend this book for a classroom library. According to the back cover, the author teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) English. This story serves several functions for all students. First, it exposes children to another culture, in this case Chinese. Second, the engaging main character likes to read, read, read; often she uses books as a coping mechanism to help her through the difficult times. Third, because she shares her many favorite titles, the young reader may use her references as a springboard to other high quality titles. The illustrations nicely complement the story.

I also envision this book being used as a teaching tool. The teacher could use a KWL chart to draw students into a lesson on diversity: What do you KNOW about Chinese culture ?; What do you WANT to know ?; and after reading, What did you LEARN? I'm sure all students can relate to Anna Wang, the main character, regardless of their ethnic origin.

Finally, the story models how a child might deal with common petty antics, interact with adults, and learn compassion for those facing individual challenges. In conclusion, this book has a great deal of potential for teachable moments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anna Wong is a fourth-grader whose head is always stuck in a good book and she is perfectly content to be so. Or is she? That is the concept of Andrea Cheng's delightful little novella "The Year of the Book." It is a quick read, peppered with expressions in Chinese and sweet illustrations by Abigail Halpin.

Anna loves to read and doesn't understand why her fellow classmates don't like to read as well. Anna's reading is an escape, for she desperately doesn't want her classmates to know that her mom has trouble speaking English or that she cleans houses on the weekends when she isn't studying to be a nurse. The previous year Anna was somewhat good friends with Laura, but when Lauren started hanging around with Allison and Lucy, Anna is left out of the picture. Initially, that's okay with her and she is confounded when her mom pushes her to be friends with Laura again when Laura's family is going through a really difficult situation. By having to accept Laura back into her life, Anna begins to see things differently, and even starts to enjoy things she disliked before, like Saturday Chinese school. It is a year of new experiences, growth, and friendship, as well as the title books.

Cheng's love for reading is evident in Anna, who reads classics like "A Wrinkle in Time" and "My Side of the Mountain" but also some unfamiliar ones like "My Louisiana Sky." The references to these works can only help propel readers to be interested in them as well, which is always a good thing. The book ends rather suddenly, which may confuse younger readers or leave them wanting to know more. Yet Anna and her family are good role models for young readers. Anna learns a lot about friendship, but also a lot about herself and why it's important to appreciate the differences between people and not be ashamed because she isn't like everyone else. These lessons that Anna learns are important ones for everyone to experience.
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