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by Rose Lewis & illustrated by Grace Zong

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8109-8394-6
Publisher: Abrams

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)