The Year of the Dog

by Grace Lin (2006)

A Sweet Spot selection

“They say the Year of the Dog is for friends and family. But there’s more to it than that. The Year of the Dog is for thinking… it’s a good year to find yourself.” 

In The Year of the Dog we meet ten-year-old Pacy in a story inspired by author Grace Lin’s real life.  Pacy ventures on a stimulating year of discovery, to find out what the Year of the Dog means, and to find herself.

At home, Pacy is very much Taiwanese-American, but at school, she’s seen as mostly Taiwanese. When Pacy goes to a TAC summer camp and meets other Chinese and Taiwanese kids, though, she is ostracized because she can’t speak any language other than English. 

Pacy gains confidence from her forever friend, the Taiwanese Melody, who understands what it’s like to be split between two cultures and feel as if she doesn’t quite belong in either. The girls get to be silly together, talking about crushes, drama, and all the in-between things.  They are like “two chopsticks… always together.” 

The Year of the Dog offers students an endless array of  fun-filled opportunities to encounter and appreciate Chinese culture and traditions. They can sit down at the Lin’s table and celebrate Chinese New Year with a broad river of traditional dishes, or step into a kitchen at the Lin’s Red Egg party to welcome a newborn to the family. Students might even want to sooth their neckaches by inking Chinese characters over the sore muscles. 

A nationwide book-making contest allows Pacy her first real chance to find herself. Pacy is bewildered because it seems like Chinese people are never considered important in books and media. She decides to write a Real Chinese Person Book, focusing on “ugly Chinese vegetables and herself.” She’s awarded 4th place in the competition and the affirmation leads Pacy to realize she wants nothing more than to write and illustrate books when she gets older. 

(In fact, Grace Lin is also the author of another stunning book in our catalog, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!) 

The Year of the Dog takes students on an episode-studded trip through the ups and downs of elementary school, a beautiful journey of self-discovery that’s funny, heartwarming, and accessible for students who may be wondering where they fit in, too. 

 

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