Pacy is stuck in the middle between Lissy and Ki-Ki, stuck going to Taiwan for a whole month, and now stuck going to summer art camp there? But she doesn’t even speak Chinese! Or Taiwanese! Yes, Mom and Dad were born in Taiwan, but all 3 sisters were born in America.
Yes, Grandmother’s 60th birthday is very important, but the girls can hardly communicate with their grandparents. Yes, the girls look Taiwanese, but can’t read any of the signs in Taipei. Yes, Chinese art is beautiful, but do the sisters really have to go to art classes during their vacation!?
So much is different and strange to Pacy – bullet trains, signing her paintings with a carved stone stamp, rice burgers at McDonalds, dressing up in traditional Chinese clothes, even the toilets at the restaurants. As the family travels to visit relatives in the countryside, she wonders about the Ghost Festival month to honor dead ancestors. Could smoke from burnt paper food really feed a hungry ghost?
The thing Pacy loves most about Taiwan is the dumplings – pork dumplings, soup dumplings, even mochi dessert dumplings! And as she eventually learns to use chopsticks, she also learns many stories from past times, like how Big Uncle was imprisoned for 2 years because his friend had a political book and how the ancient Emperor traveled in disguise.
The art class show, Grandmother’s birthday party, the big mix-up at the night market – maybe Dad is right about how much you learn by traveling! Author/artist Grace Lin describes the sights and sounds – and flavors – of Taiwan so vividly that readers will feel like they have also visited this “island of treasure” with its rich culture…and will be hungry for dumplings! Follows The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA