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Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family

Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family

by Lensey Namioka, Kees De Kiefte (Illustrator)

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Yingmei Yang has changed her name to Mary now that she is learning to "be American," but it's hard since her family sticks to their Chinese customs.


Yingmei Yang has changed her name to Mary now that she is learning to "be American," but it's hard since her family sticks to their Chinese customs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the sequel to Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear, Yingmei hopes to win friends by adopting a classmate's kitten, even though she must keep the pet a secret from her traditional Chinese family. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Yingmei (a.k.a. Mary) Yang, the third of four children, tries to communicate the dichotomous feelings of a young Chinese girl, newly immigrated to the U.S., who is working hard to fit in, but whose efforts seem to be held back by the mannerisms and traditions of her family, the musical Yangs. Torn by her feelings of both pride and embarrassment for them, and yearning to win the friendship of a popular blonde schoolmate, Mary agrees to take one of Holly's cat's kittens, although she knows her family does not want pets because they fear animals would damage their expensive instruments. She and her younger brother cook up an elaborate and increasingly ridiculous scheme to hide the kitten in their basement. In this book, which is not as successful as Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear (Little, 1992), Namioka has resorted to many clichs, such as the substitution of ``l'' for ``r'' in the Chinese pronunciation of English, along with a few pat, hearty ``we are all ethnic'' conversations. The lack of subtlety reflects poorly on both the newcomers and their American neighbors. While the foundations of some of the situations, and Mary's reactions to them, ring true, their broad expression seems to promote stereotypes more than to show greater truths and understanding among people of different cultural backgrounds.-Carla Kozak, San Francisco Public Library
Hazel Rochman
In Namioka's popular comedy about a newly arrived Chinese family in Seattle, "Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear" (1992), the focus is on the immigrant son who prefers baseball to playing the violin with his musical family. Now the point of view switches to that of his sister Yingmei (Mary), who is desperately trying to be an American. Unfortunately, her family keeps disgracing her in public. Even while Mary is studying table manners and learning phrases and trying to make it with the in-crowd, her mother thinks it's polite to compliment a guest on being old and fat, her father mispronounces words, and her sister dresses Chinese. There's a funny subplot about Mary and her brother's trying to hide a pet cat from their parents and covering up its noise with squeaky violin music. The lessons and parallels are much too heavily spelled out as Mary learns to accept differences ("Most of all, I should respect "myself"" ). But kids will enjoy the uproarious scenes of cross-cultural awkwardness, and they'll get the point that we are all "ethnic."

Product Details

Random House Childrens Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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