In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinsonby Bette Bao Lord, Christina Moore
Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams. Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn't know any English, so it's hard to make friends. Then a miracle - baseball - happens. It is 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone's hero. Jackie Robinson is proving that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America. And for Shirley as well, on the ball field and off, America becomes the land of opportunity.
Gr 3-6- Ten-year-old Bandit is excited when her grandfather announces to the family that she will be going with her mother to join her father in America. She must leave her clan and the only life she has known in China, but she is sure that moving to America will be an adventure. To celebrate, she chooses a new name-Shirley Temple Wong. Life in America is not easy because everything is new and Shirley doesn't speak English. She is ignored by her classmates until she gains the respect of the toughest girl in class. Shirley learns to love baseball and begins to play stickball. It's 1947, and Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers is everyone's hero, proving that a black man can play baseball as well as anyone. Slowly Shirley learns about the opportunities available to her in America and begins to make true friends. Bette Bao Lord's wonderfully humorous story (Harper, 1984) shows what it means to be an American from the eyes of a spunky young immigrant. It will touch the hearts of listeners. Melissa Hughes authentically narrates all the voices, including many accents and ages. This story will be enjoyed on many levels.-Teresa Wittmann, Westgate Elementary School, Edmonds, WA
- Recorded Books, LLC
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Age Range:
- 5 Years
Read an Excerpt
Chinese New Year
In the Year of the Dog, 4645, there lived halfway across the world from New York a girl called Sixth Cousin. Otherwise known as Bandit.
One winter morning, a letter arrived at the House of Wong from her father, who had been traveling the four seas. On the stamp sat an ugly, bald bird. The paper was blue. When Mother read it, she smiled. But the words made Grandmother cry and Grandfather angry. No one gave Sixth Cousin even the smallest hint of why.
It is so unfair, she thought. Must I drool like Chow Chow, eyeing each mouthful until someone is good and ready to toss a scrap my way? If Father was here, he'd tell. He would never treat me like a child, like a girl, like a nobody.
Still, Bandit dared not ask. How many times had she been told that no proper member of an upright Confucian family ever questioned the conduct of elders? Or that children must wait until invited to speak? Countless times. Only the aged were considered wise. Even the opinion of her father, the youngest son of the Patriarch, did not matter. No wonder he had gone away to seek his fortune.
She tried to pretend nothing had happened, but it was hard. All day, the elders behaved unnaturally in her presence. No unintended slights, quick nods, easy smiles, teasing remarks or harsh words. They were so kind, too kind. Bandit felt as if she had sprouted a second head, and they were all determined to ignore politely the unsightly growth.
That evening, as she and Fourth Cousin sat on the bed playing pick-up-beans, she confided in her best friend. "Something's happened. Something big has happened!"
"Oh?" said the older girl."'You are always imagining things! Remember the time you told everyone there was a goldfish swimming in the bamboo trees? It was only a fallen kite. Remember the time you overheard the cook plotting to murder the washerwoman? He was only sharpening his cleaver to kill a hen."
Bandit scowled as she scattered the dried lima beans. "That was then. Now is now!"
"All right, all right," sighed her dearest friend. "What has happened now?"
"That's it. I don't know," she answered.
"Well then, let's play. My turn. Sixies."
"No!" shouted Bandit, grabbing the other girl's hands. "Think! Think! What would make Mother smile, Grandmother cry and Grandfather angry?"
Fourth Cousin shrugged her shoulders and began to unbraid her hair. She was always fussing with her hair.
Bandit thought and thought, annoyed at her friend's silence, sorry that no matter how Fourth Cousin tried she would never be pretty.
Soon the coals in the brazier were dying, and suddenly the room was cold. The cousins scrambled under the covers. The beans tumbled onto the floor. Bandit knew she should pick them up, but she just stayed put. She had thinking to do.
Finally Bandit had the answer. Fourth Cousin was asleep.
"Wake up! Wake up!"
"Listen. I've got it. Remember the time the enemy planes bombed the city for two straight days and we had to hide in the caves with only hard-boiled eggs to eat? What happened when we came home?"
"Father brought us that pony of a dog. Mother thought it was cute and smiled. But Grandmother was frightened and cried and hid behind the moon gate. And Grandfather was very angry. He said, "Youngest Son, are you mad? Unless you mean for us to eat that beast, take him away. Take him away this minute.' His voice was as cold as the northwest wind." Bandit stood up and threaded her hands into her sleeves as Grandfather did. She cleared her throat the way he did whenever he was displeased, and stomped up and down the bed.
Fourth Cousin never opened an eye. She turned on her side and curled up like a shrimp.
Bandit pounced on her. "Don't you see? Father is bringing the dog back."
Bandit thought it over and sighed. "You're right. You're always right." Quietly, very quietly, she slipped under the covers.
Sleep still would not come. Bandit heard the sounds of laughter and voices, footfalls and bicycle bells, as guests departed from one court, then another. It was the season for merrymaking, when the New Year approaches and old debts are paid. At last the lanterns along the garden walk were snuffed out, and the room was dark. Bandit reached out. Fourth Cousin's hand was warm.
Through the wall came the faint strains of a song. Mother was playing Father's record again.
The music carried Bandit away, thousands of miles to the sea. Its waters were not muddy like the River of Golden Sands that churned at the bottom of the Mountain of Ten Thousand Steps on which the House of Wong was perched. The sea was calm; deep green like jade. As far as the heavens, the skies soared. In the distance, something blue. A boat in the shape of a bird. Slowly it floated toward shore. She shaded her eyes to get a better look. On the deck was Father. She shouted and waved, but he did not seem to hear.
"Father! Father!" She shouted until she was hoarse. Then she ran into the sea, forgetting she could not swim. Soon he was just a fingertip away. "Father! Father!"
Her cries angered the sleeping demons of the deep and they sent a wall of water to quiet the intruder. . . .
Splash! She awoke. Her face was wet.
"Look what you've made me do, you Bandit!"
She sat up to find Fourth Cousin gone and Awaiting Marriage, the servant, sprawled on the floor. Beside the old woman was a shattered water urn. All about, the offending beans.
Before Bandit could apologize, Awaiting Marriage screwed up her skinny face and wailed. The sight was ugly enough to frighten the devil himself. Cook was right. One hundred wedding trunks could not buy Awaiting Marriage even a hunchbacked, lame-footed husband.In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Copyright © by Bette Lord. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Bette Bao Lord has based this story largely on the days when she herself was a newcomer to America. She is the author of Spring Moon, nominated for the American Book Award for First Novel, and Eighth Moon.
Marc Simont was born in 1915 in Paris. His parents were from the Catalonia region of Spain, and his childhood was spent in France, Spain, and the United States. Encouraged by his father, Joseph Simont, an artist and staff illustrator for the magazine L'Illustration, Marc Simont drew from a young age. Though he later attended art school in Paris and New York, he considers his father to have been his greatest teacher.
When he was nineteen, Mr. Simont settled in America permanently, determined to support himself as an artist. His first illustrations for a children's book appeared in 1939. Since then, Mr. Simont has illustrated nearly a hundred books, working with authors as diverse as Margaret Wise Brown and James Thurber. He won a Caldecott Honor in 1950 for illustrating Ruth Krauss's The Happy Day, and in in 1957 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his pictures in A Tree is Nice, by Janice May Udry.
Internationally acclaimed for its grace, humor, and beauty, Marc Simont's art is in collections as far afield at the Kijo Picture Book Museum in Japan, but the honor he holds most dear is having been chosen as the 1997 Illustrator of the Year in his native Catalonia. Mr. Simont and his wife have one grown son, two dogs and a cat. They live in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Marc Simont's most recent book is The Stray Dog.
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