The Year of the Book

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Published: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2012

Recommended Age: 7 & up

In a Nutshell: 4th grader Anna Wang prefers the comfort of a book to that of other people… or anything else really. As an ABC (American Born Chinese), Anna feels she’s teetering between her mother’s traditional Chinese world and life growing up in the American midwest.  That is until she opens up to classmate Laura who has growing pains of her own, looking for comfort in someone she can call, “friend”.  Anna learns that sometimes stepping outside a book and making friends can be an adventure in itself.

Really enjoyed this excerpt:

“I’m almost done with My Side of the Mountain but I don’t like this last part. Sam’s family is going to find him and he’ll go back and lead a normal boring life. I try to think of another way that the story could go. He could never be found and just keep on living in the woods by himself, but that’s unrealistic. His family would keep looking for him until they found him. Or he could be attacked by a bear or he could freeze to death, but those are endings that don’t usually happen in kid’s books. Adult books are probably different because they don’t worry about terrible endings.”

I don’t know about you, but I really like when kids, teen, and adult books reference specific music, movies, and books. In this case, A Year of the Book name drops some children’s literature heavy weights including:

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Hush by Jacqueline Woodson

My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

I also want to add that the illustrations by Abigail Halpin are darling, especially the covers. I thought it was a nice touch to include an illustration of “How to make a drawstring bag”, main character Anna’s sewing specialty, on the back cover for interested readers.

Overall, The Year of the Book was an enjoyable read with depth and a unique personality all of it’s own.

Perfect For: Introverted and extroverted bookworms alike, fans of books like Clementine, and for teachers, would also make a great classroom read-aloud.

Don’t Take My Word for It: Kirkus Review, Sommer Reading, Book Dragon


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