Worried that her newly adopted baby sister isn’t gaining weight, fifth-grader Anna Wang and her friends Camille and Laura make the toddler the subject of a successful science-fair project.
Anna, who became a better friend in The Year of the Book (2012), proves to be a capable older sister as well. Three months have passed since her family brought Kaylee from China to the United States. She looks fine to Anna, who enjoys taking care of her, but she doesn’t want to eat. Camille gets her to swallow a few bites by distracting her with a song, planting the seed of an idea that blooms into an easy-to-follow experiment involving both Chinese and American nursery songs and a silent meal as a control. Laura’s moves between her parents’ two households complicate their activities, but, though she’s not Chinese, she has joined Anna and Camille at language school, providing continuity. All three use occasional simple Chinese phrases (translated in the opening pronunciation guide). As in the previous title, there are also frequent references to familiar children’s books. An ending that has their teacher also considering adoption from China seems an unnecessary embellishment, but the recipe for Grandma’s steamed bao zi is welcome.
Middle-grade readers will find many ways to connect with Anna and her friends in this warm family and school story. (Fiction. 7-10)