Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Year of the Baby

The Year of the Baby

Andrea Cheng
Illustrator:  Patrice Barton 
Fiction  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013   ISBN: 978-0544225251

Less than three months ago Anna’s mother and father went to China and they brought home a little orphanage girl that they adopted. From the moment that she set eyes on the baby, Anna has loved Kaylee dearly, and it is clear that Kaylee loves her back. When they take the little girl for checkups Anna is the only person who can sooth Kaylee, and often the little girl  hugs her new big sister around the knees.

   This should be happy time for Anna’s family, but they are all worried about the fact that Kaylee is not gaining weight the way she should. Anna’s mother in particular is constantly fretting about the fact that Kaylee is not “thriving,” which is making everyone feel very stressed.

   Anna is also worried about school because she cannot figure out what she should do for her science project. She does not want to do a project that she copies out of a book, which is what some of her friends are doing. Instead, Anna wants to do something unique, but she hasn’t yet been able to come up with a topic that is interesting and suitable.

   When Anna’s friend Camille is asked to leave the science project group she was in because she is not a fast reader, she and Anna join forces and try to find a project topic that they can do together. Camille is not as good a student as Anna, but she has a big heart and she is kind to everyone. She tries to help Anna solve the Kaylee problem, as she too is fond of the sweet little girl who refuses to eat.

   Camille remembers how many people treated her when she was having trouble learning how to read. They made a fuss and pushed her to work harder to figure out how to sound out words. It was upsetting, and all the attention was counterproductive. The person who really helped Camille was her grandfather, who read to her. After hearing all the wonderful tales, Camille forgot that learning to read was hard and she just did it. Camille suggests that maybe Kaylee is also feeling that she is being pushed too hard to do something that she does not want to do.

   In this second book about Anna Wang and her family, we once again explore what it is like to be an ABC, an American born Chinese. Anna is still trying to figure out how to connect to her Chinese heritage while being an American school girl at the same time; and she is also learning how to be true to herself. Having a new little sister in her life presents her with practical challenges that are not easy to solve, but with help from her loving friends, Anna keeps trying.