Cheng, Andrea. 2013. The Year of the Baby. Illus. by Patrice Barton. NY: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN: 9780547910673.
In the sequel to The Year of the Book, Anna is one year older and has two good friends by her side, Laura and Camille. Now, this year's challenge is Kaylee, her new baby sister that her parents adopted from China. Though she is adorably cute and stubborn she just does not want to eat. Anna and her family are concerned when the doctor says that she is not thriving. While the family, along with Grandma, focuses on helping Kaylee, Anna and her friends try to find just the right science fair project idea. Not wanting to do a project straight from a book, like the one chosen by Allison and Lucy, Anna decides through her observations that her baby sister is the answer. Perhaps singing to Kaylee will help her eat more? With the help of Laura and Camille, Anna sings two English songs and two Chinese songs to see which Kaylee responds better too, and the result is twofold.
The reading style of the book is calm and almost relaxing in nature. Yes, the story is compelling enough to keep the readers interested all the way through. The black and white illustrations are equally as simple yet charming. I love how Anna is curious, is always asking questions, and observing things. She is also honest with her feelings and worries, and she is accepting of others and their differences. The topic of an Asian American family adopting a child from China is a refreshingly new to children's books (or at least to this reader) and very interesting to read. Other minor topics about race and the opinions and treatment of girls (such as families in China prefer boys over girls) is also masterfully done. Readers also learn that having children can be difficult. Without out going into unnecessary details, it turns out that Anna's teacher Ms. Sylvester has been having trouble conceiving and wants to learn more about adopting a baby from China like Anna's parents.
Like in the first book, there are Chinese numbers (in character and English translation) and their pronunciations are included at the beginning of the book. In the back, there is also a recipe for Steamed Red Bean Bao Zi. Both are great connections for the young readers to explore after or during the reading of the book. A must-purchase sequel for any collection. You do not need to read the first book to enjoy The Year of the Baby, but if you would like more information about things about the year before when they are mentioned, then read The Year of the Book.I am looking forward to the next installment: The Year of the Fortune Cookies.
- Ask the children if they know what their parents did to make them eat when they were babies.
Read WP-CC's review of The Year of the Book here!