It's the first day with students! I have ten classes scheduled in the library, and will try to get as many books checked out to students as I can. Don't think we'll hit our record of 400 books in one day, but I don't know that I want to. It's always hectic, but always fun!
Cheng, Andrea. The Year of the Book
May 22nd 2012, HMH Books for Young Readers
Anna is experiencing a very common occurrence for fourth grade-- her best friend Laura isn't hanging out with her as much but IS hanging out with Allison and Lucy. Anna loves her family, but feels a little embarassed that they aren't like Allison and Lucy's families-- her mother, who was born in China, is just learning to drive and cleans apartments to earn money. When Laura's father becomes abusive, however, she takes comfort in staying with Anna's family for a while, and the girls reconcile a bit. Anna love to read and is very smart, so books that she enjoys are often mentioned.
Strengths: Nice, realistic book highlighting a variety of difficulties that young girls face-- nothing horrible, but some serious things. Told in a comforting way, with supportive adult characters, so that readers don't have to feel that Anna is alone. I would definitely recommend this series for elementary schools.
Weaknesses: Many of the details make this seem too young for middle school, as do the illustrations and the small size of the books.
Cheng, Andrea. The Year of the Baby
May 28th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Anna's parents decide to adopt a baby girl from China, and Anna enjoys Kaylee fairly well, and she is certainly worried when Kaylee doesn't want to eat and isn't gaining weight as expected. When she and Laura fail to find another topic for their science project, they decide to see if singing to Kaylee while she is eating distracts her enough that she eats more, and therefore gains weight. Camille, from Anna's Chinese school, also gets in on the project, and Anna tries to learn some Chinese.
Strengths: There have been a couple of excellent books about older children being adopted from China, although summer has leached all pertinent information from my brain. I can't think of another one from a child's perspective about a baby being adopted. I thought that the way Anna was concerned and helped out in a productive way was very nice.
Weaknesses: Again, too young for my purposes, but since this one was set in 5th grade, perhaps I can reexamine the books as she gets older.