Wong, Janet S. This Next New Year. 2000.New York: Frances Foster Books. ISBN 0374355037.
This Next New Year- is a story about a young Chinese Korean boy preparing for the Lunar New Year. Wong has written a picture
book the shares with the reader the Chinese New Year that is celebrated late January or early February. She stress in the
beginning of the book this holiday is not restricted to people of Chinese heritage. The boy's best friend Glen is of German
and French heritage his family celebrates the Chinese New Year by ordering Thai food. His other friend Evelyn who is Hopi
and Mexican says it is her favorite holiday because she likes the red envelops with money she gets from her neighbor from
Singapore. After learning how his friends celebrate the Chinese New Year the reader learns how his family prepares for the
holiday. Just like Wong did as a child he helps his mother clean the house making room for good luck. The lyrical couplets
give the boy a voice of determination and optimism for the New Year. "Mother is sweeping last year's dust into pile
so big all I can figure is no wonder we've had so much trouble lately." The boy helps his mother clean the house then
he begins to clean his room. He cleans his closet making room for all the good luck the New Year will bring. After he finishes
cleaning his room he takes a bath washing and drying his hair "extra dry so it can soak up good luck, so and luck can
drip into my brain." He then cleans and cuts his nails, flosses his teeth and puts on the cleanest new clothes he has.
Wong tells the story of a Chinese/Korean family's preparation for the Lunar New Year. In her author's notes she explains
to the reader why the Lunar New Year is not celebrated on January 1. She also writes about family traditions that she did
not understand while she was growing up explains one of her family tradition she did not understand as a child her grandparents
always had tangerines on the TV. The Tangerines meant this house was lucky. In addition to many cultural traditions discussed
in the author's notes the text and illustration contain many cultural marker. The strongest image provided in Yangsook Choi
illustrations is the picture of the family seated at dinner. They are seated at a low round table sitting on floor pillows.
The table is set with many traditional foods duk gook soup, bowls of white rice and fish. The family is eating with chopsticks.
Behind the family on the wall is a red banner with Chinese characters. The skin tone of the children in the story is a variety
of browns. The hair of the Chinese character is not all long straight or in a tight bun at the nape of the neck or slant
Say, Allen. The Bicycle Man. 1982. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395322545.
The Bicycle Man is a childhood story written by Allen Say. He shares with the reader about the day two American Soldiers
appeared at the gate of his school in the mountains of Yokohama, Japan. It is Spring and it is Sportsday at Says village school
today children will compete in races in hopes of winning one of the principal awards. Say and his classmates are grouped around
Mrs. Morita their first grade teacher. She tells the class they are part of the red team and to turn their headbands from
the white side to the red. Before the races can begin the children have to clean the playground. Half of the class sweeps
the playground while the others tie colored flags and streamers to bamboo poles. As the children are preparing the playground
for the games parents arrive carrying lunch boxes and kettles filled with tea. They spread their straw mat on the ground sitting
around the oval track. At nine o'clock Mrs. Morita rings the bell signaling the beginning of the day. The principal welcomes
everyone to Sport day stressing having fun over wining. After each race the winner is called to the principal's table where
he or she is awarded a white box with tied with a gold thread. Inside, are oranges, rice cakes and pencils. The sixth graders
are the last group to race before lunchtime. Families sit together on their straw mats unpacking the layers of their lacquered
boxed that hold pickled melon rinds and egg rolls, spiced rice, fish cakes and fruits. After lunch it was time for teachers
and parents to race. The children loved watching the adults' race. The last event is almost over. The playground suddenly
becomes quiet, as two strangers, American soldiers, appear at the gate. The children have never seen American soldiers and
are at first afraid and shy, until the two wave and smile. Then one soldier begins to ride the principal's bicycle. At first
the children giggle, but then the tall stranger performs amazing feats, each one more daring and magnificent than the one
Allen Say's charming story about the personal interaction between a pair of American Soldiers and a group of children
whose paths passed briefly but impacted all their lives. Through his pen drawing Say shares with the reader his small mountain
school from which he could see the village and harbor below. Through his text and illustration he shares his Japanese culture
with the reader. Many of the children are wearing white shirts with darks shorts, or printed overalls. The reader learns that
it is the students responsibility to keep the school and school grounds clean. The families sit down to a traditional Japanese
lunch packed in lacquered boxes holding foods like picked melon rinds and spiced rice. It is not until the soldiers arrive
that the reader is aware there is no difference in skin tone or hair color of the Japanese people. One of the soldiers is
African American one of the students says, "Look how Black he is!"the other soldier is white with red hair another
students says, "Look at the red hair!
This is a wonderful picture book that introduces the reader to Japanese's culture.
Yep, Laurence. Dragon's Gate (Golden Mountain Chronicles 1867). 1993. New York: Harper Trophy. ISBN 0064404897.
Dragon's Gate (Golden Mountain Chronicles 1867) is a historical novel about the construction of the transcontinental railroad
at the time of the American Civil War. It is a story of one Chinese boys struggle for survival against overwhelming odds.
Otter is from the Middle Kingdom (China) is forced to join his father, Squeaky, and his Uncle Foxfire in America the Land
of the Golden Mountain. Back in China his father and uncle are heroes to the village people, but Otter soon learns the truth
that they are no better that the rest of the Chinese laborers working on the huge task of completing the transcontinental
railroad. Otter is not used to physical labor, the other men on his team do not respect him. In his own time of need his uncle
turns his back on him. The headman of the project is a man name Kilroy. Kilroy pushes the Chinese workers to exhaustion
and gives them an inadequate amount of supplies to live on. When Otters father is blinded by and accident on the job, Otter
forces himself to work harder and help more. After awhile he begins to make more friends, he earns respect from his fellow
workers and also adjusts to the backbreaking work that he and the other workers have to do. In the end, Otter and his uncle
take on a mission that will determine that fate of the entire camp and change Otter's life forever in a way the otter will
Yep has created a historical work that clearly details the culture of the past whether it is the culture of Manchu-ruled
Chinas, America during the Civil War. Otter and other Chinese workers struggle to survive racial prejudice, cold, starvation,
and the foreman's whip. The men were responsible for cooking their own food dried fish and duck that was provided by the railroad
then subtracted from their monthly wages. It was stress through out the novel the importance of tea to the men. They believed
that the tea protected then from sickness. When the Chinese speak among themselves there is no dialect the sentences are
clear and complete. Only when they speak English to non-Chinese it reads a broken English.
This is a great historical-adventure novel.
Na, An. A Step From Heaven. 2001. Asheville: Front Street. ISBN 1886910588
A Step From Heaven received the Prints award in 2002 for young adult literature. The story is told through the eyes of
Young Ju who emigrates with her family from Korea when she is four. The day before she leave Korea for Mi Gook (America)
her mother take Young Ju to have curls put in her hair like all the pretty girls in America. Young Ju doesn't want curly
hair she like her straight hair, "I like my straight hair. I do not want to me a Mi Gook girl." When Young Ju arrives
in American she speaks no English. Instead of using the name for thing like "toilet paper" she describes them using
a child imagination. When she is in American, English dialogue is written how she hears it, not how it is spelled, "Tees
es Yung or Wah koum, Young' the class says.
The follows Young Ju life from age 4 to college age and the voice matures with her from a child amazed with the number
of rooms in her aunt's house to a young woman who becomes American without the support of her father wish to keep her Korean.
Her father is a mean violent alcoholic. Like with all alcoholics the family has good times. When he first arrives in American
he has dream of success, to work hard and buy his family a home of their own. As time passed so do his dream he begin to
drink more, missing work and losing his job. He struggles with the new culture we see him reading the Korean newspaper but
has trouble filling out immigration forms. Young Ju's mother life means working two jobs, taking care of the family while
being physically abused by her husband.
Young Ju's struggles to understand what is going on in school and then trying to explain to her parents different American
School girl activities that are strange to her Korean culture. By the time she is ready to leave for college her father has
returned to Korea and her family has moved into their own home.
Na fills the story with Korean culture, through family dynamics when he brother is born activities that she is punished
for her father praises her brother. The language is rich with Korean words that are made intelligible by the context and
the reader's easy pronunciation.
A Step from Heaven is more than about a child's experience in a new country it a story of sorrow and joy about a families
struggle to fine their way in a new country without losing their cultural identity.