Andrea Wang

Book - 2021

Embarrassed about gathering watercress from a roadside ditch, a girl learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage after learning why the plant is so important to her parents.

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Bookmobile Children's jE/Wang Due Oct 25, 2022
Children's Room jE/Wang Checked In
Children's Room jE/Wang Due Oct 16, 2022
Picture books
New York : Holiday House [2021]
First edition
Item Description
"A Neal Porter Book."
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 x 29 cm
Ages 4 to 8.
Grades K-1.
Main Author
Andrea Wang (author)
Other Authors
Jason Chin, 1978- (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Here author Wang tells the tale of a young Midwestern girl who struggles to accept herself and her Chinese immigrant parents—and it all comes to a head over some roadside vegetation. During a family drive, the parents decide to pull over and gather watercress that's growing in a ditch. The daughter is so ashamed of the impromptu harvest, she won't even eat the watercress when it's served up for dinner, leading her mother to tell the heartbreaking history of how she lived through the famine in China and food shortages that took the life of her younger brother. Knowing this, the daughter sees the wild watercress with new meaning, and she wants to eat it and make new memories with her family. The story reveals the chasms that can separate first-generation immigrant parents from their Americanized children and how confronting past traumas from another country and time can bring a family closer together. Chin's illustrations masterfully bring to life the vast cornfields and colors of rural America. Grades K-2. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This multilayered autobiographical narrative illuminates Wang's experience as a child of Chinese immigrants in Ohio. In spare, elegant free verse, Wang (Magic Ramen) recalls a car ride interrupted when her parents notice watercress in a roadside ditch. "From the depths of the trunk,/ they unearth/ a brown paper bag,/ rusty scissors," a verso page reads as the parents rummage through their old red Pontiac. Cornstalks transition to bamboo across the page's gutter as the phrase finishes, "and a longing for/ China" alongside a sepia-washed scene of two children in a Chinese village. Though her older brother readily picks, and subsequently eats, the watercress, the narrator is resistant—until her mother shares an affecting childhood memory that results in a deeper understanding of her family and making "a/ new memory of/ watercress." Caldecott Honoree Chin (Grand Canyon) employs muted washes of watercolor, using both Chinese and Western brushes to convey moments of memory and heritage. An adept gem of a picture book, encompassing both universal intergenerational embarrassment and a specific diasporic shift in cultural perception. Back matter includes author's and illustrator's notes. Ages 4–8. Author's agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator's agent: Stephen Sheppard, CDAS. (Mar.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-Gr 3—Simple text and beautiful illustrations pack a strong emotional punch in this picture book. Based on the author's own memories of being the child of Chinese immigrants in Ohio, the story follows a young girl who is in the car with her family. They spot watercress growing in a ditch and stop to collect it for their dinner later. The girl refuses to eat it, embarrassed of how they got their food, as well as their used furniture and clothes, believing that "Free is bad." Her parents don't understand her humiliation as she doesn't understand their excitement over the meal. Words are used sparingly; the illustrations complete all that is left unsaid. The most poignant spread is when the girl's mother tells them about their uncle and how there was never enough to eat. On one page, her little brother holds up his empty bowl; on the next, his seat is empty. Readers of various ages will want to discuss the layers of miscommunication between cultures and between generations, and how to be more mindful of others' experiences. But the work is far more than a lesson. A tightly woven piece of story and watercolor art is exemplified in one spread, where the the cornfields of Ohio become the famine-stricken land of China. VERDICT A powerful story sure to awaken empathy and curiosity: Who else left behind a homeland, and at what cost?—Elissa Cooper, Helen Plum Memorial Lib., Lombard, IL Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A little girl traveling through Ohio in an old car helps her family collect muddy, snail-covered watercress from a ditch in the wild before learning the story of her immigrant heritage and how foraging for fresh food helps her loved ones stay together. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Embarrassed about gathering watercress from a roadside ditch, a girl learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage after learning why the plant is so important to her parents.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Caldecott Medal WinnerNewbery Honor BookAPALA Award WinnerA story about the power of sharing memories—including the painful ones—and the way our heritage stays with and shapes us, even when we don’t see it.  New England Book Award WinnerA New York Times Best Children’s Book of the YearA Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor BookWhile driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl's Chinese immigrant parents spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road.  They stop the car, grabbing rusty scissors and an old paper bag, and the whole family wades into the mud to gather as much as they can. At first, she's embarrassed. Why can't her family just get food from the grocery store, like everyone else? But when her mother shares a bittersweet story of her family history in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged—and the memories left behind in pursuit of a new life.Together, they make a new memory of watercress.Author Andrea Wang calls this moving, autobiographical story “both an apology and a love letter to my parents.”  It’s a bittersweet, delicate look at how sharing the difficult parts of our histories can create powerful new moments of family history, and help connect us to our roots. Jason Chin’s illustrations move between China and the American Midwest and were created with a mixture of traditional Chinese brushes and western media. The dreamy, nostalgic color palette brings this beautiful story to life. An endnote from the author describes her personal connection to the story, and an illustrator’s note touches on both the process of the painting, and the emotional meaning brought to the work.  New England Book Award WinnerA New York Times Best Children’s Book of the YearA Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of the YearA Boston Globe Best Children's Book of the YearA Washington Post Best Children's Book of the YearA Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor BookWinner of the Cybils AwardAn SCBWI Crystal Kite Award WinnerA New York Public Library Best Book of the YearA Chicago Public Library Best Book of the YearAn ALSC Notable Children's BookNamed a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, BookPage, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Lunch, Shelf Awareness , and more!A CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade BookAn NPR 'Book We Love!'A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!