cover image Watercress


Andrea Wang, illus. by Jason Chin. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4624-7

This multilayered autobiographical narrative illuminates Wang’s experience as a child of Chinese immigrants in Ohio. In spare, elegant free verse, Wang (Magic Ramen) recalls a car ride interrupted when her parents notice watercress in a roadside ditch. “From the depths of the trunk,/ they unearth/ a brown paper bag,/ rusty scissors,” a verso page reads as the parents rummage through their old red Pontiac. Cornstalks transition to bamboo across the page’s gutter as the phrase finishes, “and a longing for/ China” alongside a sepia-washed scene of two children in a Chinese village. Though her older brother readily picks, and subsequently eats, the watercress, the narrator is resistant—until her mother shares an affecting childhood memory that results in a deeper understanding of her family and making “a/ new memory of/ watercress.” Caldecott Honoree Chin (Grand Canyon) employs muted washes of watercolor, using both Chinese and Western brushes to convey moments of memory and heritage. An adept gem of a picture book, encompassing both universal intergenerational embarrassment and a specific diasporic shift in cultural perception. Back matter includes author’s and illustrator’s notes. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Stephen Sheppard, CDAS. (Mar.) [/em]