The Year of the Garden
The Year of the Garden

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Series: Anna Wang Vol. 5   

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Annotation: Follows perceptive, astute Anna as she strives to grow a perfect garden, only to realize that the garden she grows with her new friend is more than good enough, weeds and all.
Catalog Number: #158784
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Chapter Book Chapter Book
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2017
Illustrator: Barton, Patrice,
Pages: 117 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-328-90017-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-0905-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-328-90017-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-0905-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016001791
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Chinese American Anna Wang, eight, has just moved to a new house; over (part of) a year, she begins an up-and-down friendship with neighbor Laura, rescues a baby bunny, starts a garden, and celebrates a birthday. Although fans may be happy for more of Anna's story, this brief prequel mostly revisits themes of The Year of the Book, albeit less memorably and cohesively.
Kirkus Reviews
In this prequel to The Year of the Book (2012), Chinese-American Anna Wang explains how she met her friend Laura.After moving to a new Cincinnati neighborhood, 8-year-old Anna doesn't have friends nearby or activities to occupy her. When she's given The Secret Garden and some seeds, Anna thinks about making her own garden. Laura, a white girl also new to the neighborhood, introduces herself, and the girls discover they will both be starting third grade at the same school. Anna suggests they make a garden in her yard, and they begin clearing. Apprehensive about attending a new school, Anna's pleased Laura's in her class but declines Laura's invitation to join the soccer team. Soon gregarious Laura's too preoccupied with soccer to spend time with quiet Anna, who works alone on her garden, but when Anna finds a baby rabbit in the snow, she turns to Laura for help. By spring, their friendship and Anna's garden blossom. Anna's reserved, first-person, present-tense narration reveals her concerns about fitting in. Telling details, as when Laura asks if Anna's just moved from a "slum," give readers a sense of Anna's socio-economic milieu. The parallels she draws between The Secret Garden and her experiences with Laura and the garden add depth to this thoughtful chronicle of adjustment. Delicate spot art highlights key elements. A gentle, feel-good story about the transforming power of friendship and gardening. (Chinese pronunciation guide) (Fiction. 6-9)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 25In this satisfying prequel to The Year of the Book, Anna and her family have moved from an apartment to a house, meaning she will begin third grade at a new school. Before long, she meets Laura, also new to the neighborhood and eager to make new friends. The seeds of their tumultuous friendship are sown as they work together on a vegetable garden in Anna's backyard, inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Readers will greatly enjoy seeing familiar characters appear in this book. Anna's mother is still working to improve her English, and family friend Mrs. Shepherd (deceased at the beginning of The Year of the Book) gives Anna seeds, tools, and advice for working in the garden. From a class lesson on recycling to the rescue of an orphaned rabbit, themes of renewal and "the circle of life" are woven throughout. Barton's wispy illustrations, as always, echo Anna's sensitive nature and understanding of the world around her. VERDICT Appealing both to transitional and fluent readers, this thoughtful prequel offers further insights into Anna's world for those returning to it, while creating a compelling story for those just discovering it.Katherine Barr, Cameron Village Regional Library, Raleigh, NC
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
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Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Word Count: 15,997
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 188812 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.5 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q69379
Lexile: 620L

Chapter One


Every Saturday morning, Mom cleans the Shepherds' house. My brother, Ken, and I usually go with her.
     "How do you like your new home?" Mrs. Shepherd asks as soon as Mom opens the door.
     "Very good," Mom says, taking her bucket to the kitchen sink and turning on the water. "So much space for kids."
     "Let me know if there's anything you need. We have lots of things stored in the basement." Mrs. Shepherd turns to my brother and me. "Just yesterday I was cleaning out the closet, and I set aside a few things for you."
     We follow Mrs. Shepherd into the bedroom, and I notice that one of her legs is dragging. She holds on to the doorframe to keep her balance, then sits down in the armchair. Next to it is a cardboard box with a big envelope on top. "Whenever you get mail, it has a mark from the place it originated. Mr. Shepherd and I feel like we traveled the world with this postmark collection."
     "Don't you want to keep it?" Ken asks.
     "There comes a time when a person gets tired of traveling." Mrs. Shepherd hands Ken the envelope, then looks up at me. "And, Anna, here are some of the books and magazines I read when I was a girl. I figured, what good are they gathering dust on a shelf?" Mrs. Shepherd stops for a minute to catch her breath. "This one was my favorite." She hands me a thick book with a red cover called The Secret Garden. "I think this book is the reason I turned into a gardener." Mrs. Shepherd leans back in her chair. "And it's probably the reason I turned into a reader, too. Now you kids make yourself at home while I rest a bit."

Ken and I spend the afternoon matching the postmarks to a map of the United States that was folded up in the envelope. Then Mr. Shepherd sets out a bowl of pretzels and a pitcher of lemonade.
     "Come join us for a snack, Mary," he says. But Mom isn't done dusting the living room. "Your mother is a real treasure," Mr. Shepherd says. "And you kids, too."
     Ken stacks a bunch of pretzels on his finger and eats them one at a time, dropping crumbs all over the table. I glare at him, but he keeps on nibbling.
     "Never mind." Mr. Shepherd sweeps the crumbs into his hand and rolls his wheelchair over to the door so he can throw them into the backyard. "Better than bird seed." He points to a tree. "See that? A yellow finch just waiting for a snack."

When Mom says it's time to go, Mrs. Shepherd comes out of the bedroom holding a small paper bag. "I have one more thing for you, Anna. I harvested the seeds from our garden, and I thought maybe in your new house you'd have someplace to plant them."
     "Don't you want to plant them here?" I ask. "In your garden?"
     Mrs. Shepherd looks out the back window. "You know, Anna, my gardening days are over." I follow her gaze to the flowerbed. Most of the plants are brown and dry, but there are still some orange blossoms around the border. "The seeds are labeled so you'll know what's what."
     "Thank you," I say. Ever since I can remember, I wished I lived on a farm with a big vegetable garden and a barn full of hay where Ken and I could play hide-and-seek and jump from one bale of hay to another.
     We head down the street to the bus stop. The wind feels hot and humid, as if it might rain. When we get to the orange bus stop sign, I turn back. Mr. Shepherd has wheeled himself out to the front porch. Mrs. Shepherd is standing beside him, leaning on his chair. I wave and they wave back. When the bus comes, they are still waving.

Now that we moved into our new house, the bus ride home takes longer. I wish we were going back to our old apartment at Manor Court. Then when we got home, I would go next door to see if Suzanne could come out. At our new house, I don't know anyone and I don't have anything to do.
     I put my hand into my pocket and feel the paper bag with the seeds inside. Maybe I really can find a place at our new house for a garden, like behind the back porch. Since our house is on the corner, we do have lots of space. Dad said he wouldn't have time to tackle the yard until next year, but I can clear the land myself, just like Pa and Ma in Little House in the Big Woods. I can cut down the bushes and dig out the roots. Ken can help me take out the rocks. Then, in the spring, I can plant Mrs. Shepherd's seeds.

Excerpted from The Year of the Garden by Andrea Cheng
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

This prequel to THE YEAR OF THE BOOK follows perceptive, astute Anna as she strives to grow a perfect garden -- only to realize that the garden she grows with her new friend is more than good enough, weeds and all. A heartfelt and charming introduction to the Anna Wang series. When Anna is gifted a copy of The Secret Garden, it inspires her to follow her dreams--maybe she can plant ivy and purple crocuses and the birds will come. Or maybe what grows from her dream of a garden is even better: friendship. And friendship, like a garden, often has a mind of its own. In this prequel to The Year of the Book, join Anna in a year of discovery, new beginnings, friendships, and growth.

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