Thursday, November 13, 2014

Apple Pie 4th of July

By Janet S. Wong
Pictures by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Wong, Janet S. Apple Pie 4th of July. Ill. by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc., 2002. ISBN 9780152025434

Plot Summary
"No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July, I say." A Chinese American girl is not happy that her parents are making Chinese food on the 4th of July. Neither of her parents were born in America, but she is trying to educate them on how things really are. As the day goes on, she watches the parade go by her parent's store, and she soon changes her tune on thinking people do not want Chinese food on an American holiday.

Critical Analysis
Margaret Chodos-Irvine's artwork for this book was created with a "variety of printmaking techniques on Lana printmaking paper" (Harcourt, 2000). An interesting element to Chodos-Irvine's illustrations is her inspiration. To gain inspiration she visited family-owned markets in Seattle, Washington where she lives, and she also attended parades near by. A variety of skin tones are represented in this story. The main character is Chinese American with tan skin, black hair, and dark eyes. Customers that come into her parents store range from brown skin with dark eyes and hair to tan/peach skin tone with light brown eyes and hair. There is even one customer with light skin and gray hair. There is no cultural reference in the clothes of the people in the illustrations.

Janet Wong has created a simple, fun, and multicultural story told from a young girl's perspective. Wong never reveals the main character's name in the book. There is only one name that is mentioned, Laura, who is not ever seen in the book. The food the young girl's parents are cooking is Chinese food; egg rolls, chow mein, and sweet and sour pork. Wong's words combined with Chodos-Irvine's illustrations present the disappointment of the young girl when she realizes she can't blame her parents for not knowing how to celebrate an American holiday, like the fourth of July. Wong's simple text exhibits some rhyming that makes the story fun to read aloud. This story with the artwork provides a great multicultural connection for young elementary classrooms.

Review Excerpts
  • "This excellent read-aloud will partner well with books that emphasize American patriotism..." -Booklist (starred review)
  • "This second successful collaboration by the creators of Buzz (Harcourt, 2000) is one you won't want to miss." -School Library Journal
  • "The art resembles cut-paper collage. Chodos-Irvine deploys sharply defined objects in a range of colors and patterns to construct harmonious, forthright compositions that will likely prove inviting to readers of many backgrounds." -Publishers Weekly
More Asian American children's books about celebrations, American and Asian.
  • Bringing in the New Year (Read to a Child) by Grace Lin
  • Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding by Lenore Look
  • Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin
Have students share some of their own traditions and celebrations. 

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