Saturday, October 18, 2014

‘Year of the Book’ by Andrea Cheng

Book cover: Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng. A girl holding a book looks back toward a girl behind her who leans forward as if to see, from over her shoulder, what the first girl is reading.
Sometimes the connection between reader and character doesn’t have to be something as visible or “obvious” as race; if the reader of a book can view the character as being like him- or herself, then that book is serving as a “mirror.”

I deeply related to Anna Wang, main character in The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng. We don’t have a cultural heritage in common, but both of us are sewers/designers.

Anna has sewn a lunch bag out of repurposed fabric and she makes it the subject of a classroom essay on the subject of “Perseverance.”

When composing her essay, Anna relives and documents the false starts and failed attempts before successfully completing the bag.

I could entirely relate this to my own experiences when creating an original project: visualizing the finished project in my head and the pattern shapes I would need to create it, drafting the pattern pieces, cutting them out and assembling them.

If my first attempt didn’t match up with what I was trying to create, I might have to make refinements at one or more steps in construction.

And, like Anna, when sharing the steps I put into these projects, I run the risk of the non-sewing reader/listener not knowing what I’m talking about, of not knowing why our relating of the process is an example of “Perseverance.”

In slightly different format, this piece was also posted to my online Children’s Literature class. The Year of the Book is a third- to fifth-grade selection for Oregon Battle of the Books.

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