Chinese New Year is February 3rd in 2011. It’s the Year of the Rabbit. Is this your year? If so, you were born in 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011 (don’t forget to adjust for the Chinese New Year start date). Rabbits are known for being lucky, kind and peaceful. They get along well with sheep and pigs (those born in the Year of the Sheep and the Year of the Pig, not the actual animals necessarily).
To say that Grace Lin speaks to the Asian American experience is probably not specific enough and, simultaneously, also much greater than that. As a sensei (sorry, I’m half Japanese and this means second generation in Japanese), Grace speaks poignantly of the pushes and pulls between her homeland and her “Americanization” conflicts that stem from trying to find the space where she fits in and yet connects with her ethnicity. I especially love Grace Lin’s Pacy series. The Year of the Dog is where Pacy discovers her career path in writing and illustrating books. The Year of the Rat has Pacy dealing with big changes coping from the loss of her best friend — the only other Asian American girl in her class who moves away to California. In real life, this happens to Grace as well, and this best friend turns out to be her future editor!
I chose these books because there was something special about each of them that helps me to connect to my Chinese roots and I hope that you enjoy them to, even if your ancestry isn’t Asian.