Thursday, February 16, 2023

Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome

K-Gr 3-The children in Ms. Mary's class are kind and welcoming. When new student Lin arrives from China, everyone greets him warmly. "Lin grins and opens his mouth. Then he shuts it again. His cheeks glow red." All day Amy tries to include him in activities, but Lin doesn't speak. It isn't until she sees him talking animatedly with his family in Chinese that another side of Lin is revealed. The illustrations of this book reflect the inclusive theme by showing characters with a variety of skin tones, hair colors and textures, and eye colors. But it goes beyond the surface features to also show Amy's home with her grandmother who helps her make a banner in Chinese, her mother who invites this new family to come to their dumpling party, and the guests who are friends from work and school. The words, actions, and facial expressions all show how much the characters want to make this new family feel accepted. Back matter includes ideas on how readers can make a welcome banner, details about the author's own experience growing up speaking English and Mandarin, and a few panels that translate the Chinese spoken by Lin and his sister. VERDICT Illustrated with warm and welcoming colors, this story is perfect for helping students make a new class member feel at home and to understand that "It's never too late for a welcome."

My review originally appeared in School Library Journal, June 2022, p. 65.

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