Review: Year of the Dog (Updated)

September 3, 2011

*Oops. Originally had this titled as Year of the Rat as I was in the middle of that book.

Lin, G. (2006). The year of the dog: A novel. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  134 p.  0316060003.  $14.99.  Gr. 3-5.

Pacy Lin is hoping for a bit of luck as the Chinese Year of the Dog begins.  Her family promises she will find riches, talents, and new friends over the year.  First, she meets Melody, a new Chinese girl at school.  But she’s having trouble finding her talents.  She doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, and as the end of the year draws close she wonders if she ever will.  Lin has used her own life to tell a delightful story of cultural identity.  She also, as stated in her author’s notes, attempts to mimic her favorite books as a child.  Not much happens, as the characters lead normal, non-extraordinary lives.  It’s a gentle story with a great deal of humor, especially in Lin’s cartoons used to enhance the text.  It’s a precursor to the Wimpy Kid books, only done with a surer hand.
Additional Thoughts:
I’d been meaning to read something by Grace Lin for awhile, but hadn’t.  I was recommended Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but this looked more interesting to me. I like more contemporary, realistic fiction. This is certainly more realistic. It is almost excruciatingly realistic . . . in the hands of someone else. Grace Lin is perhaps the most gifted writer I have come across. There wasn’t a minute I didn’t enjoy her simple story about a year in her life. I’m currently working on the second book in this series, and it is even better.
Similar Titles (From Books and Authors): 26 Fairmount Avenue – Tomie De PaolaCat and Rat: The, Legend of the Chinese Zodiac – Ed YoungA Crooked Kind of Perfect – Linda UrbanDrita, My Homegirl – Jenny LombardLook at My Book: How Kids Can Write and Illustrate Terrific Books – Loreen LeedyThe Ugly Vegetables – Grace Lin Also recommend to fans of Diary of Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, The Dork Diaries by Renee Russell

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