Author: Wang, Andrea
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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|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: .5 Quiz: 514753
Newbery Honor, 2022
Caldecott Medal, 2022
Kirkus Reviews (+) (01/15/21)
School Library Journal (+) (02/01/21)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/03/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2020 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. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2021 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 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.