Apple Pie Fourth of July


Shocked her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell on an all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese American girl tries to tell them how things really are. As the parade passes and fireworks light the sky, she learns a surprising lesson.

A Chinese American child fears that the food her parents are preparing to sell on the Fourth of July will not be eaten.

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Shocked her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell on an all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese American girl tries to tell them how things really are. As the parade passes and fireworks light the sky, she learns a surprising lesson.

A Chinese American child fears that the food her parents are preparing to sell on the Fourth of July will not be eaten.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author and artist teamed for Buzz return for this carefully honed story about a girl's experience as a first-generation Chinese-American. Readers first encounter the unnamed narrator as she looks unhappily out the glass door of her parents' market, open for business even on the Fourth of July. Hearing the "boom, boom, boom" of the approaching parade, sniffing the apple pie baking in a neighbor's oven, she is distracted by the cooking smells from the store's kitchen, where her parents are preparing chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork. "No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July," she tries to explain, and her prediction seems right as the afternoon lengthily unfolds with almost no customers. "My parents do not understand all American things," she reminds herself, "They were not born here." But the evening brings a steady stream of patrons, and the holiday concludes with the family watching fireworks (invented by the Chinese) and eating what else? apple pie. The well-paced text heavily freighted at the beginning and swift by the end reflects the girl's changing emotions and moods. The art resembles cut-paper collage. Chodos-Irvine deploys sharply defined objects in a range of colors and patterns to construct harmonious, forthright compositions that will likely prove inviting to readers of many backgrounds. Ages 3-7. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In a lyrical look at a young Chinese-American girl's 4th of July in her family's convenience store, Wong paints a unique picture of the evolving diversity in U.S. culture. On a day that celebrates the independence of our nation, we mostly see patriotic portrayals of our Federalist period when European Americans and European culture dominated our society. This book shows that this holiday can be celebrated in a diversity of ways, including a trip through a Chinese buffet after a parade. The young girl doubts anyone will want Chinese food on such an American holiday, but her father points out that fireworks are Chinese. Folks do eventually come to enjoy their Chinese food. After the store closes, the family goes up to the roof to watch the fireworks and eat apple pie. This 4th of July book celebrates the diversity that is the true spirit of the freedom we are celebrating on Independence Day. 2002, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Alexandria LaFaye AGES: 3 4 5 6 7
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This simply told story explores a child's fears about cultural differences and fitting in with understanding and affection. A Chinese-American girl helps her parents open their small neighborhood grocery store every day of the year. However, today is the Fourth of July and her parents just don't understand that customers won't be ordering chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork on this very American holiday. As she spends the day working in the store and watching the local parade, she can't shake her anxiety about her parents' na vet . When evening arrives along with hungry customers looking "for some Chinese food to go," she is surprised but obviously proud that her parents were right after all: Americans do eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July. Nighttime finds the family atop their roof enjoying fireworks and sharing a neighbor's apple pie. Done in a "variety of printmaking techniques," Chodos-Irvine's illustrations are cheerfully bright and crisp, capturing the spirit of the day as well as the changing emotions of the main character. This second successful collaboration by the creators of Buzz (Harcourt, 2000) is one you won't want to miss.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"No one wants Chinese food / on the Fourth of July, I say. / Fireworks are Chinese, Father says, / and hands me a pan full of sweet-and-sour pork." A Chinese-American girl grapples with issues of culture, identity, and acceptance in this well-conceived work. In the opening spread, executed in a printmaking technique similar in style to a woodcut, the girl leans against the gray door of her parents' store wearing a long expression on her face and a red-and-white striped shirt with blue overalls. "I hear the parade coming this way-/ boom, boom, boom. / I smell apple pie in Laura's oven upstairs," she says. Yet in her own kitchen, her parents prepare chow mein. Later, a quintet of evenly spaced spot illustrations stretch across the length of the page. Text appears above the pictures of the girl sitting on a green stool: "One o'clock, / and they buy ice cream. / Two o'clock. / The egg rolls are getting hard. / Three o'clock. / Ice and matches. / Four o'clock, / and the noodles feel like shoelaces." "My parents do not understand all American things. / They were not born here," she says on the next spread, certain that the food will go uneaten. But her demeanor changes when customers start trickling in. Soon, she steps behind the counter to help fill orders. In the end, the story comes full circle as the girl heads to the rooftop to watch the fireworks with her family and friends from the neighborhood; on the final spread, she eats a piece of apple pie. All at once, cultural boundaries don't seem quite as defined. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606860571
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

JANET S. WONG is an award-winning author of picture books and poetry for young readers. She lives in Hopewell, New Jersey.

MARGARET CHODOS-IRVINE's striking artwork has graced children's books as well as many cards, magazines, and book jackets. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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