Watercress
Watercress

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Annotation: Gathering watercress by the side of the road brings a girl closer to her family's Chinese Heritage. Driving through Ohio... more
Catalog Number: #301470
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8234-4624-7 Perma-Bound: 0-8000-0322-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8234-4624-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-8000-0322-7
Dewey: E
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Here author Wang tells the tale of a young Midwestern girl who struggles to accept herself and her Chinese immigrant parents d 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.
Publishers Weekly
This multilayered autobiographical narrative illuminates Wang-s experience as a child of Chinese immigrants in Ohio. In spare, elegant free verse, Wang (Magic Ramen) recalls a car ride interrupted when her parents notice watercress in a roadside ditch. -From the depths of the trunk,/ they unearth/ a brown paper bag,/ rusty scissors,- a verso page reads as the parents rummage through their old red Pontiac. Cornstalks transition to bamboo across the page-s gutter as the phrase finishes, -and a longing for/ China- alongside a sepia-washed scene of two children in a Chinese village. Though her older brother readily picks, and subsequently eats, the watercress, the narrator is resistant-until her mother shares an affecting childhood memory that results in a deeper understanding of her family and making -a/ new memory of/ watercress.- Caldecott Honoree Chin (Grand Canyon) employs muted washes of watercolor, using both Chinese and Western brushes to convey moments of memory and heritage. An adept gem of a picture book, encompassing both universal intergenerational embarrassment and a specific diasporic shift in cultural perception. Back matter includes author-s and illustrator-s notes. Ages 4-8. Author-s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator-s agent: Stephen Sheppard, CDAS. (Mar.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
PreS-Gr 3 Simple text and beautiful illustrations pack a strong emotional punch in this picture book. Based on the author's own memories of being the child of Chinese immigrants in Ohio, the story follows a young girl who is in the car with her family. They spot watercress growing in a ditch and stop to collect it for their dinner later. The girl refuses to eat it, embarrassed of how they got their food, as well as their used furniture and clothes, believing that "Free is bad." Her parents don't understand her humiliation as she doesn't understand their excitement over the meal. Words are used sparingly; the illustrations complete all that is left unsaid. The most poignant spread is when the girl's mother tells them about their uncle and how there was never enough to eat. On one page, her little brother holds up his empty bowl; on the next, his seat is empty. Readers of various ages will want to discuss the layers of miscommunication between cultures and between generations, and how to be more mindful of others' experiences. But the work is far more than a lesson. A tightly woven piece of story and watercolor art is exemplified in one spread, where the the cornfields of Ohio become the famine-stricken land of China. VERDICT A powerful story sure to awaken empathy and curiosity: Who else left behind a homeland, and at what cost? Elissa Cooper, Helen Plum Memorial Lib., Lombard, IL
Starred Review for Kirkus 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)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (12/1/20)
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly (12/1/20)
ALA Booklist (12/1/20)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: P-2

Gathering watercress by the side of the road brings a girl closer to her family's Chinese Heritage.

Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl's parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can.

At first, she's embarrassed. Why can't her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family's time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress.

Andrea Wang tells a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage, illustrated by award winning author and artist Jason Chin, working in an entirely new style, inspired by Chinese painting techniques. An author's note in the back shares Andrea's childhood experience with her parents.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!


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