In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

by Bette Bao Lord
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I had actually never read this book before now and it is no surprise that it is a classic. I find a lot of kids’ books these days (even adult books, sometimes) have so many timely references that make them out of date soon, but then there are books like this one that are mostly free of these restrictions and are timeless.

Shirley Temple Wong (she chose the name herself) lived for her first 9 or so years in China with her extended family close at hand. One day her mother receives a letter from her father in America saying that the three of them will be making the permanent move to America – Brooklyn, to be exact. Shirley herself is hilarious in her sincerity and inspirational in the obstacles she overcomes: learning English well enough to do well in school by the end of the year (she moves in January; the book’s chapters follow her through the calendar year); being away from her beloved cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents; befriending the class bully; learning many, many things about American culture, especially how to play baseball. It is a heartwarming tale that also touches on some of the more difficult aspects of growing up, especially in a new culture. Working as I do with such a large Chinese population, I also feel more knowledgeable about Chinese culture – an added bonus!

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