The HapaMama Summer Reading Series 2013 continues with a book that takes us on a trip to Taiwan!
When we started getting ready for our family trip to Taiwan last spring, one of the first things I did was to read Grace Lin’s Dumpling Days with my boys. This middle grade chapter book features Pacy (or “Grace”), the main character from Lin’s earlier books Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat. Unlike the other stories, which take place over the course of a year, Dumpling Days focuses on a single summer trip to Taiwan.
Dumpling Days certainly brought back a lot of memories for me. Like myself, author Grace Lin is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, and the adventures of Pacy, Lissy and Ki-Ki remind me of my childhood visit to my parents’ homeland. Reading this book was a fun way to show my kids what they might expect from the trip, and it did cover a lot of the must-see attractions, such as night markets, temples and goldfish-catching games. However, the book depicts some some experiences we didn’t have, such as the typical Taiwanese glamour photo session and a summer camp for overseas youth (which sounds similar to the kids’ version of the “Love Boat” program for college students), during which Pacy must grapple with the feeling of not being Taiwanese enough. Despite the challenges of visiting a foreign country, Pacy finds some things she loves about Taiwan, like food — especially dumplings.
As with Lin’s earlier chapter books, I read this one aloud with my kids. Big Brother could have easily read Dumpling Days on his own, but I wanted to share the story with both my children and also explain some of the situations they might not understand. Reading this together was also a good way to segue into telling them about my own childhood experiences. My kids sat at attention from cover to cover, even though the main characters in this series are all girls. Imagine how excited they would be if Grace Lin write a contemporary book with a boy as a main character!
And even if you’re not planning any overseas travel, you can visit Grace Lin’s website to download a free printable dumpling recipe card.
Accelerated Reader gives Dumpling Days a 4.4 book level.
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I’ll be reviewing books each Wednesday this summer. To find out what’s coming up or to read along, check out my Summer Reading 2013 list!
Links in this post will take you to IndieBound, where you can order books to be picked up at your local bookseller. A small commission goes to support HapaMama.