From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3—Following a classroom discussion about China, a Chinese-American adopted child, nicknamed Orange Peel by her parents, realizes that she knows little of her birthplace. After school, she and her mother set off in their neighborhood to discover her heritage. She visits the tailor, an antique store, a florist, a noodle shop, and an ice-cream place, all with Chinese proprietors. Each one gives her a tiny history lesson and, as she leaves, secretly drops a memento into the pocket of her dress. The next day she is ready to use her trinkets to tell her class about her homeland. Lewis again handles the subject of an adopted Chinese girl with tenderness, providing both a simple history lesson and a way for adoptive parents to discuss the search for their child's background. The story is equally accessible to preschool listeners and early readers; young audiences will enjoy guessing what each adult slips into the pocket. Zong's slightly abstract people, painted with realistic, warm-hued acrylics, depict a sunny cheerfulness that matches the tone of the story.—Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
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Following titles that include the best-selling I Love You like Crazy Cakes (2000), Lewis offers another book about adoptee experiences. When her kindergarten teacher introduces the subject of China, Chan Ming, lovingly nicknamed Orange Peel, is unsure of how to respond to her classmates’ typical questions, such as, “Does everybody eat with chopsticks?” So, she and her Caucasian mother set out to find answers from the many people in their neighborhood who, like Orange Peel, came to America from China. During their visits, depicted in joyful acrylic artwork, Orange Peel learns a great deal about Chinese traditions, and unbeknownst to her, a supportive adult slips something special into her pocket at each stop. After discovering the gifts, including a piece of silk and a secret noodle recipe, she realizes that these treasures will help her to tell “the story about where she was born.” Although Orange Peel’s interactions, and the text in general, have a pat feel, Lewis does provide reassurance and a sense of how important it is for many young adoptees to learn about their birth country’s culture. Preschool-Grade 2. --Andrew Medlar