Dumpling Days (A Pacy Lin Novel)
Pacy Lin, the beloved heroine of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat has returned in a brand new story. This summer, Pacy’s family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother’s 60th birthday celebration. Pacy’s parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she’s excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be—she looks like everyone else but can’t speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher’s instructions, and it’s difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious... - Amazon.com Ages: 8-12 years
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Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Dumpling Days by Grace Lin
This book was written by Grace Lin who is a Newbery Honor author. The story was told through the eyes of middle school aged Pacy who is a Taiwanese- American. Her family and she are off to Taiwan for a month to visit family and for the Grandmother's 60th birthday. It is Pacy's and her sister's first trip to Taiwan. Pacy's father described traveling as “Traveling is always important --- it opens your mind." Pacy is apprehensive; however, this story shows the adventurous spirit of Pacy with her sisters and family. She embraces her extended family and has some uncommon experiences such as eating chicken's feet. Pacy's mother signs her up for art classes. In the USA, Pacy was gifted in art, however, in Taiwan, it is a different story. Art seems difficult and making friends is twice as hard.
This book was extremely relatable to anyone who has spent time in a different country. She talks about eating dumplings, not understanding the language, buying a chop and having jet lag. The part that made me laugh was when the girls heard an ice cream truck. They all ran outside to get an ice cream, and it turned out to be a garbage truck. This book shows the cultural differences in Taiwan. Even though the story was written in a humorous way, it had a lot of educational value. It had a lot of in-depth information describing the culture and traditions such as the value of elders in Taiwan.
This book was familiar to me for I am a "Twinkie" as Pacy is called in the book. When I visited Asia for the first time, I had many of the same experiences as she did even though I was an adult. Eating unfamiliar food and getting accustomed to a different type of toilet is something that I never thought I would have experienced. The idea of eating pocky sticks and going to the market was something I experienced when I was in China.
I would most definitely recommend this book to any student in grades 4-8. The reading level was appropriate for this age group and the humor would be easily understood. It also carefully explained terms so that readers would not find the vocabulary confusing. It is interesting, funny, as well as educational. It truly explains the feelings of a young girl being put in an unfamiliar situation in a way middle schoolers can relate to.
Dumpling Days, Grades 5-6
This fictional novel is part of a series of books that is based on the real-life experiences of the Newberry Honor author Grace Lin. In Dumpling Days, readers join the Lin family as they spend a month of their summer vacation in Taiwan, visiting family and preparing for a special birthday celebration. This is a month of personal exploration for Pacy as she finds out what it is like to travel in a country where she does not know the language and is unfamiliar with many of the foods and customs. In forty short chapters covering just over 250 pages, readers of all ages come to better understand the central themes that investigate the challenges of a child who is working to find her identity and the costs of growing up away from family traditions.
Through a series of entertaining adventures, students reading this novel will learn more about East Asian cultures and customs. From embarrassingly pushing the wrong button on a toilet in a restaurant to mistakenly eating chicken’s feet, kids (and adults) can easily relate to the unfamiliar situations in which Pacy finds herself. Even though this novel follows Pacy and her two sisters, the story includes many male cousins with whom boys can relate and many tales of adventures during the Hungry Ghost Festival that everyone in a classroom would find interesting. Lin uses both a narrative and reflective form in her writing with vignettes inserted along the way explaining what life was like for Pacy’s mom and dad as they were growing up in Taiwan.
One of the great opportunities in reading Grace Lin’s work is that all three of her novels, The Year of the Dog, The Year of the Rat, and Dumpling Days cover a variety of reading levels for grades 3-12, so ability-based reading groups can be used to explore parallel themes in three different stories. Dumpling Days can be read in a Literature class or even dissected and taken as individual chapters for a cultural exploration activity in Social Studies. The author’s website, www.gracelin.com has additional information on these novels and other children’s books that she has written, curriculum guides for author visits, and information about coordinating Skype Q&A sessions with Grace Lin.
This book was given to me by my nine year old daughter who selected it because of its cover--and I must say that this is one time that judging a book by its cover was a great choice!