Monday, November 05, 2012

Middle Grade Monday -- Dumpling Days

Dumpling Days
Lin, Grace. Dumpling Days.
2 January 2012, Little, Brown
Nominated for the Cybils by Jama Rattigan

Pacy Lin sets off with her family to Taiwan for an entire month. Her grandmother is turning 60, a very lucky birthday, so the family goes to stay. Her mother and father are glad to be back home, but Pacy feels out of place and would rather be back in the US. She looks Taiwanese, but she doesn't speak the language, and everything seems odd and uncomfortable to her. She does enjoy the food, and manages to eat dumplings at almost every meal. She is enrolled in a traditional painting class, but her usual artistic ability deserts her, and she has a lot of trouble. It doesn't help that there is another girl in the class who gives her a hard time for not embracing traditional Asian values. The family travels a bit to visit more relatives and sees a lot of Taiwan. In the end, Pacy is glad to have visited and is sad when she has to return. Sequel to The Year of the Dog(2005) and The Year of the Rat (2008).
Strengths: This has got to be the best travel book I've see for a while-- such detail about Taiwan! This also doesn't seem as young as the other titles in this series. I'm tempted to buy this one, since it stands alone well.
Weaknesses: While I understand Pacy's use of "American", and the use of this phrase in Taiwan, we have enough students who heritage is from SOUTH America that I try to refer to "US" culture instead of "American" culture, so that bugged me a little.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader. It's also Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at Booktalking.

I have been reading so many fiction books for the Cybils that I don't have a Nonfiction Monday title today, but Dumpling Days absolutely begs to be pared with something like Abdo's Cool Chinese and Japanese Cooking by Lisa Wagner. I see that Lerner has updated Cooking the Chinese way revised and expanded to include new low-fat and vegetarian recipes by Ling Yu, as well.

That said, as much as I love Abdo and Daughters, I'm half tempted to boycott them because of the new Disney Princess Chapter Books. Looking through the Christmas ads this weekend, I noticed that even though my daughter is nearly 20 and SHE wore blue overalls and red shirts and had a work bench with tools AND a kitchen set and my son had a doll named Bob, the ads are still showing pink glittery dolls for boys and aggressive weaponry for boys. Sigh. I always feel a bit odd and hypocritical recommending books for boys, so maybe I'm weirdly hypersensitive to this.


  1. I love Grace Lin's books. Thanks for spotlighting this one.

  2. I...I bought them all. Don't judge me! I need the circulation!

  3. I have loved Grace Lin's previous books about Pacy so I am looking forward to this one. I also spent some time in Taiwan and PRC so I am sure it will bring back memories. I LOVE dumplings!!! But have to go Gluten Free now so I can't eat them anymore. It breaks my heart. I haven't had the courage to try and GF varieties because I am afraid of the disappointment... :( This book might be hard for me to read, come to think about it...

  4. Thanks for clueing us in to Grace Lin's book - another one my kids are sure to love.

  5. I met Grace Lin last year and she is so nice. Her writing is fabulous and I read the other books in this series. I will have to check this one out!