Monday, September 9, 2013
Dumpling Days Review
Book talk: Have you ever been forced to go on a family trip? Sometimes they can be fun, like a trip to Disneyland, but sometimes you'd rather just stay home. That's how Pacy feels about her family's trip to Taiwan. To her mom and dad it's a trip to their homeland, but Pacy's home is back in America. And the worst part is that they have to stay the whole summer. A whole summer away from her friends in a country where she can't even understand what people are saying or read the signs if she gets lost. As if that wasn't bad enough she finds out that her parents have signed her up for classes at the cultural center--classes during summer vacation! But when she gets there Taiwan isn't anything like what she expected. Her relatives are pretty nice, the food is delicious, and she is determined to win the top prize in her painting class. Maybe the summer will be great, or maybe it will be a disaster after all. One thing is for sure though--she'll never forget it!
Rocks my socks: I am a big fan of Grace Lin and this title did not disappoint. Pacy was charming and I loved her narrative voice ("Dad always spouted in dramatic ways about things, sometimes to be funny but other times because he really meant it. When he meant it, we usually ignored him.") The information about Taiwan was fascinating and left me wanting to learn more (and of course go and eat some dumplings!) Like with her other books, Lin weaves brief stories throughout the main narration about Chinese legends or Pacy's family history. I always looked forward to these. With everything else going on Lin manages to work in some great life lessons about embracing new experiences, focusing on enjoying each moment, and the importance of family. As if her skills as an author aren't enough Lin is an excellent illustrator as well and she skillfully fits her drawings into the story as if Pacy is doodling in the margins of her diary. These add extra character and humor to the novel as well as helping the reader visualize the new concepts introduced.
Rocks in my socks: nothing
Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of the Amelia's Notebook series and other novels that are written in the style of a kid's diary with doodles. Fans of her other novels will naturally enjoy this one. It would make an excellent class read for an elementary classroom because despite its light and humorous style there's plenty of themes that would make for good class discussions. I'd say it's good for third to fifth grade.
Grace Lin has a website that is loaded with extras from lessons to coloring pages to recipes
From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors has an interview with Grace Lin about the book
There's a great trailer for the book:
Source: Copy provided as part of faculty/staff book club
Dumpling Days by Grace Lin: buy it or check it out today!