Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. 9781534497351
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Format: Hardcover picture book
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? Amy is excited when her teacher introduces the new student to the class. His name is Lin and he is from China, just like her family! Try as they might, Amy and her classmates cannot seem to get Lin to talk about anything. Over lunch, Amy sees that Lin enjoys dumplings as much as she does. At dismissal, Amy sees Lin with his family and hearing their greetings in Mandarin, she realizes that he was so quiet because he doesn’t speak English. So, she gets an idea! That afternoon, while shopping for dumpling ingredients she asks her mother if Lin and his family can come to their party that evening. With the help of her grandmother, Amy creates a banner written in Mandarin characters to welcome Lin and his family and she carefully practices the words to be sure she can pronounce them correctly – “Huan like the hoot of an owl, Ying flies from the tongue like the ring of a bell, and Ni sounds a lot like knee.” The party begins, and Amy is too nervous to present the banner to Lin in her shaky Mandarin. Instead, he encourages her to make dumplings shaped like boats and purses, and before they know it, the party is over. Amy finally gathers the courage to present the banner, and although her parents tease that welcomes are for the beginning, Amy knows better!
There’s so much to enjoy and appreciate about this beautifully illustrated text. The inclusion of myriad ways to say welcome around the world, to end matter that details how to make a welcome banner, as well as a personalized note from the author about how important it was for her to feel welcome as a young child who wasn’t fluent in English are but a few of the reasons this picture book will resonate with many children and their caregivers. The positive message and authentic attempts to overcome language barriers serve up the empathy young children need to see demonstrated in their daily lives. This text is one of three Amy Wu books written and illustrated by Zhang and Chua, and hopefully it will not be their last!
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Any child will find something to enjoy in this book, however, it would pair nicely with The Name Jar, Danbi Leads the School Parade, or any other books on the immigration experience or being new at school.
Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA
Date of review: April 17, 2022
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