Orange Peel's Pocket

Orange Peel's Pocket

4.5 2
by Rose A. Lewis, Grace Zong

One day in class, Orange Peel—who got her nickname by eating orange peels when she was little—and her classmates learn about China. Everyone starts to ask Orange Peel questions about the country because they know that’s where she was born. But she doesn’t have all the answers. So Orange Peel joins her mother on her neighborhood errands to


One day in class, Orange Peel—who got her nickname by eating orange peels when she was little—and her classmates learn about China. Everyone starts to ask Orange Peel questions about the country because they know that’s where she was born. But she doesn’t have all the answers. So Orange Peel joins her mother on her neighborhood errands to find out.

Many of the shops they visit are owned by people who also were born in China. Each has a story to tell Orange Peel. She visits Mr. Fan the tailor, who speaks about silk; Ma Sang, who owns an antiques store and also writes poetry; Mrs. Liu at the flower shop; Mr. Yu, whose restaurant makes “best there ever was” noodle soup; and Jasmine at the ice cream shop. Orange Peel can’t wait to tell the kids at school about China’s influence on all of these things, but first she discovers a number of gifts that have been slipped into her pocket by the store owners: silk, a poem, a peony, a noodle soup recipe, and a lucky red knot. Orange Peel is overjoyed, as the treasures she’s found link her to the place where she was born.

Rose Lewis’s text is a wonderful look into China’s influence on history and the modern world. Exciting new illustrator Grace Zong brings the story to life through her modern and thoughtful art.

F&P Level: M
F&P Genre: RF

Praise for the work of Rose Lewis
Bank Street College Best Children’s Books
Child Magazine Best Books
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards
BookSense Book of the Year finalist
“Offers abundant reassurances of love to adopted children . . .” —Publishers Weekly
“Sweetly sentimental . . . taps into a well of genuine emotion.” —Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lewis's (Every Year on Your Birthday) affectionately written offering stars an adopted Chinese child whose classmates catch her off guard with questions about China that she can't answer. With her mother, she visits Chinese members of the community and comes away with new knowledge: Mr. Fan the tailor tells her about silk; Ma Sang the antique dealer reads her a poem; Mrs. Liu tells her about Chinese flowers; and Mr. Yu invites Orange Peel and her mom in “for what Orange Peel called Mr. Yu's 'best there ever was' noodle soup.” Each of them slips a secret gift into Orange Peel's pocket, which give her the courage to present her findings to her classmates. Newcomer Zong's folksy acrylics show Orange Peel as a shiny, wooden doll-like figure with a button nose, and the story feels similarly stilted; the encounters Orange Peel has with her neighbors are rushed to keep the story moving, and present a curiously anachronistic view of China. Still, teachers and family members will welcome the book as a jumping-off point for discussions about children from faraway places. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Chan Ming is a small girl born in China but living in America. Her parents call her Orange Peel because she used to try to eat it. One day when her teacher shows the class a map of China and asks what it is like, everyone expects Orange Peel to answer their questions, but she admits she does not know. She decides to ask the local adults who were born in China to tell her about it. As she stops in each shop, she learns something special. She then discovers that at each stop someone has put something special in her pocket as well. So when nervous Orange Peel has to give her report, she has something to show as she tells about her birthplace. Zong's acrylic paintings elaborate a bit on the text. In Mr. Fan's tailor shop, for example, there are many shelves stocked with colored cloth as well as a worktable, but it all turns into a forest as he tells about the making of silk. The stylization of the illustrations smoothes away extraneous details, reflecting a child-like view of the experiences. Readers may be inspired to learn more about their own backgrounds as well. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—Following a classroom discussion about China, a Chinese-American adopted child, nicknamed Orange Peel by her parents, realizes that she knows little of her birthplace. After school, she and her mother set off in their neighborhood to discover her heritage. She visits the tailor, an antique store, a florist, a noodle shop, and an ice-cream place, all with Chinese proprietors. Each one gives her a tiny history lesson and, as she leaves, secretly drops a memento into the pocket of her dress. The next day she is ready to use her trinkets to tell her class about her homeland. Lewis again handles the subject of an adopted Chinese girl with tenderness, providing both a simple history lesson and a way for adoptive parents to discuss the search for their child's background. The story is equally accessible to preschool listeners and early readers; young audiences will enjoy guessing what each adult slips into the pocket. Zong's slightly abstract people, painted with realistic, warm-hued acrylics, depict a sunny cheerfulness that matches the tone of the story.—Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
Like the title item, Lewis's latest is overstuffed and mildly mysterious. Orange Peel's nickname, although it's explained, seems unwieldy and unlikely. The overlong text is also awkward at times ("Their first stop was to Mr. Fan the tailor"). The reason Orange Peel wants information is no mystery. Embarrassed that she doesn't know anything about where she was born when asked by classmates, she plans to discuss China at Show and Tell. The mystery comes in as Orange Peel and her adoptive Euro-American mom visit friendly local vendors who, like Orange Peel, are Chinese. Each shares a bit of information and then secretly slips something into her pocket. Why secretly? Why not just give her the small gifts openly? The gifts, of course, turn out to be the perfect props for her presentation. Zong's acrylic paintings feature pleasantly rounded images and offer a touch of whimsy as Orange Peel imagines the landscapes described by her Chinese compatriots. Ultimately, though, this purposive picture book fails to create compelling characters or tell an intriguing tale. Earnest but disappointing. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
5 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Rose Lewis is the author of the New York Times bestseller I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, which Kirkus said was “destined to become a classic” in a starred review. She is also the author of the award-winning Every Year on Your Birthday, which Booklist, in a starred review, described as a “loving portrait of a single mother and an adopted child [that] gently accentuates the importance of incorporating the child’s culture into her new life.” Rose lives in Massachusetts with her daughter and their beloved dog, Teddy. Grace Zong was born in Illinois and moved to Korea when she was seven. Later, she returned to the United States to study art at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she majored in illustration. She splits her time between her home in New York, and her home in Korea. This is her first picture book.

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Orange Peel's Pocket 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Hiflynmom More than 1 year ago
Super cute new book appropriate for children adopted from China.
adopive_mom More than 1 year ago
Rose Lewis ha perfectly addressed the transitional challenges of cross-cultural adoption. Her story highlights the need to blend the child's heritage into her new life. Orange Peel's pocket holds the pastand the future- This is a charming, psychologically sound story. Bravo Ms. Lewis!