cover image Orange Peel's Pocket

Orange Peel's Pocket

Rose Lewis, , illus. by Grace Zong. . Abrams, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-8394-6

Lewis's (Every Year on Your Birthday ) affectionately written offering stars an adopted Chinese child whose classmates catch her off guard with questions about China that she can't answer. With her mother, she visits Chinese members of the community and comes away with new knowledge: Mr. Fan the tailor tells her about silk; Ma Sang the antique dealer reads her a poem; Mrs. Liu tells her about Chinese flowers; and Mr. Yu invites Orange Peel and her mom in “for what Orange Peel called Mr. Yu's 'best there ever was' noodle soup.” Each of them slips a secret gift into Orange Peel's pocket, which give her the courage to present her findings to her classmates. Newcomer Zong's folksy acrylics show Orange Peel as a shiny, wooden doll–like figure with a button nose, and the story feels similarly stilted; the encounters Orange Peel has with her neighbors are rushed to keep the story moving, and present a curiously anachronistic view of China. Still, teachers and family members will welcome the book as a jumping-off point for discussions about children from faraway places. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)