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The Year of the Book

(Anna Wang #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,212 ratings  ·  450 reviews
In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated.

When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world.

Books, however, can’t tell A
Hardcover, 146 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) You might get a copy from the library and read it. Then you'd even know what it's about.
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Anna Wang
Mr. Shepherd
Mrs. Simmons
Ken Wang
Laura's Mom
Laura's Dad
Mr. Wang
Mrs. Wang…more

Anna Wang
Mr. Shepherd
Mrs. Simmons
Ken Wang
Laura's Mom
Laura's Dad
Mr. Wang
Mrs. Wang(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Jeremy Ruble
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I just read a book I wished I had read a year ago: "The Year of the Book" by Andrea Cheng

It's not a great story, but it's great because it is a year in the life of a modern, American Born Chinese girl. Here's why it's a powerful book to be familiar with as a fourth grade teacher. It's written at an AR 3.6 level - very much an "on the cusp" reading level for a somewhat struggling beginning fourth grader. It's a chapter book, but it's semi-illustrated so it's a good transitional book for those gir
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
When a librarian sees a title of a book with the word “books” in it, it just has to be read. And I am so glad I did. This is a sweet story of friendship and how it is not always a smooth journey. Anna Wang is in fourth grade and in the past Laura has been her friend. But now Laura seems to spend more time with Allison and Lucy and Anna just doesn’t fit in. To escape the loneliness, Anna turns to her books. She finds courage in pages of My Side of the Mountain, and acceptance of her Chinese herit ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fourth grade ABC (American born Chinese according to the book) struggles with her relationship with her mother, her feelings of being different because she is Chinese, and the 'how-to' of making friends. The book leads us through Anna's story, and while not all is perfect, she does find some answers to some personal questions. The title refers to the way that Anna seems to deal with her problems, by hiding in a book. While she shares some great titles like A Wrinkle In Time and My Side of the ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elementary School Kids, Especially Asian-American Kids and Introverts
I picked up this book from the library because I noticed the author's Chinese last name and also the Asian-American girl in the cover illustration. I'm always on the lookout for more diverse children's books, especially books by and about Asian-Americans, since I am Asian-American myself. As it turns out, the author is not Chinese! But presumably her husband is.

Despite not being Chinese herself, I think the author did a fine job portraying the realities of growing up Chinese in America. She mak
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I used this as a read aloud in my classroom. It was a hit with boys and girls alike. The characters were interesting, the theme was positive and exhibited a strong message about friendship and compassion. My students also commented that they liked the integration of some Chinese language and culture.
C.J. Milbrandt
Anna Wang is ABC (American-born Chinese) in the fourth grade who loves to read. She's quiet, self-conscious, considerate, and a bit of a contemplative. She usually gravitates toward adults; they don't change their mind about friendship like girls her age. Anna doesn't like Chinese school, is embarrassed by her mother's imperfect English, and avoids the people who have hurt or disappointed her before. All very realistic.

One feature of the story is our peek at Anna's reading list. We get little t
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book because I am doing an Alphabet Reading challenge and none of the libraries near me had the book I wanted to read for "Y"; so I just looked randomly on the shelves and this was the first one I came across that the synopsis didn't repulse me.

It was a cute little book! A nice, easy beginner reader about a girl who likes to read books learning how to become friends and get outside into life. It's just a very quiet, gentle book about growing a little bit. I enjoyed it after some of
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was very very good. It is definitely in my top 3 books that we have read for the parent/child book club at our beloved APL. I like the the author's writing style, it kept my interest and was simple while being profound at the same time. I also thought it was an excellent illustrations about what 4th grade is really like, especially for kids who are in grade school today. So many parts of this book made me think of my 4th grade daughter's real experiences every day. The friends who are ...more
In this story, a shy Chinese-American girl turns to books to get through her fourth grade year but learns to make friends with a little girl whose family is going through a bad divorce, an elderly widowed man, and her school's crossing guard.

What I enjoyed about this book was that Anna reminded me of me--I had a terrible time making friends as a child and also dove into books. I also liked that the book addressed divorce, a parent whose first language is not English and is going to college, and
The Styling Librarian
The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng – 3rd grade and up, Realistic Fiction – So, what flew through my mind within the first chapter? I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this character! It was wonderful to read a book that I knew would partner well with my students who love Lenore Look’s Ruby Lu Brave and True and Grace Lin’s Year of the Dog in addition to many other favorite early chapter book/fiction realistic fiction novels that are touching, thoughtful, innocent, humorous, and compelling reads. I loved reading ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a sweet, quick read. I enjoyed it, although I felt like more needed to happen. I don't think I will remember much of this book for very long. There are lots of fun literary references though!

This reminded me a bit of Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park.
Anna Wang is afraid she's losing her friend Laura to Allison and Lucy, but she doesn't know what to do about it. She's more comfortable with her books and crafting activities. In addition, her mother's job of cleaning isn't something she wants known because she doesn't find it something to be proud of, despite the fact that her mother is working toward attending nursing school while learning English and how to drive. Anna struggles to know how to be a friend to Laura when she wants to do other t ...more
Lisa Straubinger
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A sweet, middlegrade story of friendships, growing pains, fitting in and forgiveness. This is the first book in the series. Anna is an ABC - American Born Chinese. She's trying to figure out where and how she fits in, especially when her best friend starts spending time with some girls who aren't so nice to Anna.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sweet little book about a third-grade girl learning to be a friend. Probably the best kid-lit I read for the first time for my job this school year, complete with casual diversity and lovely realistic depictions of how children struggle to process peripheral drama of the adults in their lives.
Courtney Gilmore
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book, very much!
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg-idea-list
A solid chapter book for 3rd or 4th graders. It may especially appeal to a young book lover who is more introverted or struggling with friendships in his or her own life. I enjoyed how the main character was able to relate her "book friends'" experiences to her own life.
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I really like this charming little middle grade book. I appreciate that it tells a contemporary story with an ABC (American Born Chinese) protagonist that has some Chinese cultural things sprinkled through without making the heritage a “problem” in her life or in her relationship with her friends. I think Andrea Cheng really captures that 10-year-old-book-lover-in-the-process-of-sorting-out-friendship-and-family-relations spirit and she successfully implies many emotions and events without ever ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love books about books...about kids who love to read. This book is written for a fourth-grade audience, but I liked it just the same. The protagonist is a book-o-phile who even hates to go to school because it cuts down on her reading time. Socially, she doesn't fit in...go figure.

Here's a snippet from an Amazon reviewer: (More like a BLIPPET!)
My only criticism (and it is mild) is that some of the books Anna reads are a bit sophisticated for the intended audience of THE YEAR OF THE BOOK. Even
Vikki VanSickle
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
This book covers the ups and downs of Anna Wang’s grade four year. Anna is a quiet, meticulous child who enjoys reading and sewing. She is less enchanted with Chinese school, which her mother insists she attend, and is wary of her fair-weather friend Laura, who seems to prefer the company of mean-girl in training Allison.

Author Andrea Cheng nails the politics of childhood, especially triangular relationships. Laura seems to prefer Anna’s company, but chooses Allison over Anna when push comes to
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
An easy and pleasant read about an American born Chinese girl, dealing with everyday problems and reading lots of books.

Anna is in 4th grade (around 9-10 years old?), loves to read, doesn't like to learn Chinese, and isn't very good at friendships. Because of the events, she meets a new girl and also learns to appreciate more the time she spends with her childhood friend.

An easy read with a small number of pages, nice illustrations and a low level of language. I'm not complaining here, it's a go
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readin2013
The Year of the Book has a cozy feel to it, perhaps because of the hopeful outlook. Though Anna, our heroine, isn't absolutely loving all the changes that come with being in fourth grade, she has much to be thankful for. Anna gets great joy out of reading. Almost every chapter in this one includes Anna reading a new book or talking about a new book. Sometimes she's sharing memories of a book she loved, loved, loved long ago like Little Blue and Little Yellow (by Leo Lionni), and other times she' ...more
Monique S. (The Ginger Librarian)
I enjoyed this book far more than I originally thought I would, for so many reasons. This is a real-life fictional story told from the perspective of Chinese-American fourth grader, Anna Wang. This little girl reminds me so much of myself at that age, or someone I could have been best friends with in fourth grade. Books are Anna's best friends and reading is her favorite thing in the world to do. She enjoys the learning aspect of school more than socializing, and takes more of an interest in the ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a delightful easy reading book for students here at the high school who can connect to any number of the traits, qualities, and interests Anna has 1) reading (maybe that's why I enjoyed the book so much as she references the books she's reading, likes to read, reading in a pillow-filled bathtub in a teacher's classroom, etc. 2) she's having friend issues, particularly being abandoned by her best friend in favor of a few girls she doesn't necessarily like, 3) she's American-born Chinese navi ...more
Michael Culbertson
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: bildungsroman
In fourth grade, Anna Wang's friend Laura is more interested in spending time with Allison than with her, and Anna retreats into the world of her books. As the year progresses, Anna learns that Laura's life is not as happy as it seems, and she rediscovers friendship.

The book proceeds as a series of first-person vignettes that provide a window into the life of the main character and her social development over the course of the year. The vignettes treat themes of loneliness, social isolation, emb
Michele Knott
Anna is a fourth grader who is trying to navigate through the perils of being an almost middle schooler. She finds the most comfort when reading her cherished books. Anna's friendships are changing; she wants things to stay the same, but her friends are starting to get new interests, such as clothes and shopping. Anna thinks being at home can be tough too because her mom has a job that she doesn't want other kids to know about (cleaning people's houses) and her mom still hasn't learned to drive ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-nf
Having just finished "Quiet" about introverts, Anna was definitely an introvert, and was simply finding her way as she struggles with friendships and does her own thing quietly on the side, such as reading lots of great books, sewing, and doing for others. She had subtle help from her teacher and mom (dad was uninvolved - why? Wouldn't he be central figure in an American-Chinese family?) lots of emphasis on mom studying to be a nurse. Good story for the quiet girls. Is this a stereotype of the C ...more
BAYA Librarian
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This story follows Anna through fourth grade as she struggles with friendship, her relationship with her mother, and her identity as an American Born Chinese (ABC). Being a book lover, Anna has books to help keep her company as she navigates the year. The writing is simple and uncomplicated. There are some nice little illustrations by Abigail Halpin, and the book is filled with tidbits of information about Chinese culture. Younger kids will love recognizing the titles Anna loves, and probably en ...more
Linda Lipko
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Found on Goodreads as a recommendation, this is a delightful tale of young Anna Wang who loves books.

Straddled between two cultures, Anna is embarrassed by her mother's Chinese ways and yet she loves her family, hoping they can be more American.

As most coming of age books, this one deals with learning how to be a friend and how to accept friendship. Unsure of her life, books are Anna's companions.

When she befriends Laura, she gradually learns of Laura's family life and the fact that Laura's fath
Abby Johnson
I just loved this book and I think it's because I can super identify with Anna. As a kid (and yeah, as an adult) I sometimes preferred my books to hanging out with real people. And when friendship starts to get complicated, sometimes that choice makes sense!

This reminded me a lot of Grace Lin's Pacy books, although Anna has more angst. I can't wait to pick up the rest of the books!
Jen Bojkov
Sweet story about the difficulties of being a 4th-grade girl in today's world. Anna learns how to be herself even in the midst of mean-girl behavior from a few girls. Relying on reading frequently to get her through tough times. It is one of my faves from the 2014-2015 Bluebonnet list.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Combine: The Year of The Book 3 14 Jan 21, 2014 10:25AM  

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Andrea Cheng is a Hungarian-American children's author and illustrator. The child of Hungarian immigrants, she was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio in an extended family with three generations under one roof. Her family spoke Hungarian and English at home. After graduating with a BA in English from Cornell University, she went to Switzerland, where she apprenticed to a bookbinder, attended a school of b ...more

Other books in the series

Anna Wang (5 books)
  • The Year of the Garden (Anna Wang #5)
  • The Year of the Baby (Anna Wang #2)
  • The Year of the Fortune Cookie (Anna Wang #3)
  • The Year of the Three Sisters (Anna Wang #4)

News & Interviews

It’s time to turn your attention to something dark and twisty, to a story (or two or three) so engaging, the pages just fly by. In short, it’s...
12 likes · 0 comments
“Hey, can you teach me the word for friend that you wrote on my card?"

"Peng you," I say.

"Peng you," she says, only instead of pung yo, it sounds like penguin. "Shee shee for being my penguin," she says.”
“She looks at Laura. Their eyes meet.” 0 likes
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