Watercress
by Wang, Andrea; Chin, Jason (ILT)






Embarrassed about gathering watercress from a roadside ditch, a girl learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage after learning why the plant is so important to her parents.





Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando. She was inspired to write Watercress by her experience growing up in rural Ohio as a child of Chinese immigrants. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.

Jason Chin is a celebrated author and illustrator of children's books. His book Grand Canyon was awarded a Caldecott Honor, a Sibert Honor, and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. He is the author and illustrator of Your Place in the Universe, which Kirkus called "A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge", as well as other acclaimed nonfiction titles-Coral Reefs, Redwoods, Gravity, and Island: A Story of the Galapagos- which have received numerous starred reviews and other accolades. He is also the illustrator of Stephanie Parsley Ledyard's debut title Pie Is for Sharing and Miranda Paul's Water is Water and Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born, the latter, a Boston Horn Globe Honor Book. He lives in Vermont with his wife and children.





Here author Wang tells the tale of a young Midwestern girl who struggles to accept herself and her Chinese immigrant parents-and it all comes to a head over some roadside vegetation. During a family drive, the parents decide to pull over and gather watercress that's growing in a ditch. The daughter is so ashamed of the impromptu harvest, she won't even eat the watercress when it's served up for dinner, leading her mother to tell the heartbreaking history of how she lived through the famine in China and food shortages that took the life of her younger brother. Knowing this, the daughter sees the wild watercress with new meaning, and she wants to eat it and make new memories with her family. The story reveals the chasms that can separate first-generation immigrant parents from their Americanized children and how confronting past traumas from another country and time can bring a family closer together. Chin's illustrations masterfully bring to life the vast cornfields and colors of rural America. Grades K-2. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.





A Chinese American family pulls their car over to gather wild watercress growing by the roadside. As the family sheds their shoes and rolls up their pants to wade into the gully, the narrator of Wang's poignant free-verse text is anything but happy. Mud squelching between toes, holding a soggy brown bag full of what looks like weeds, the preteen ducks down as a car passes lest their family is recognized. But for Mom and Dad, the moment is emotional. In one exceptional double-page spread Chin paints the faded red 1960s-era car parked on the left, with cornstalks bordering the road transforming into bamboo stalks and a soft-focus sepia-toned image of rural China on the right. "From the depths of the trunk / they unearth / a brown paper bag, / rusty scissors, // and a longing for China," reads the text. In another, Mom and Dad praise the watercress for being both fresh and free, but to the next generation, "free is / hand-me-down clothes and / roadside trash-heap furniture and / now, / dinner from a ditch." It isn't until Mom finally shares the story of her family in China that her child understands the importance of this simple dish of greens, this "delicate and slightly bitter" watercress. Wang's moving poetry paired with-and precisely laid out on-Chin's masterfully detailed illustrations capture both an authentic Midwestern American landscape and a very Chinese American family, together infusing a single event with multiple layers laden with emotion, memory, and significance. Understated, deep, and heart-rending-bring tissues. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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