Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family

Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family by Lensey Namioka

This is the second book in the Yang series.

It is hard coming moving to a new country and Yang the Third does a wonderful job of showing cultural differences.  This is sometimes hilarious and sometimes cringe inducing.  You can’t help but laugh as poor Mrs. Yang upon learning Mrs. Hanson is 36 reassures her, “You look much older!” In China, it is considered an honor to be old. Obviously, things are quite different in America.

Yingmei is incredibly determined to fit in.  She picks an American name so that the kids will be able to pronounce it.  She keeps lists of new words, especially slang words so that she’ll speak properly.  But things are difficult.  Despite her efforts, the girls in her class make jokes about Chinese people eating pets and exclude her from their games.  But Yingmei is determined.  She learns how to fit in, but also when to stand up for herself and her family.

Great for: This book has some really important lessons about friendship, particularly for upper elementary school girls.  The dynamic where many girls try to please one ringleader who is not particularly concerned with how others feel is a very real and common thing.  To have a character perceptive enough to understand how the group of girls is working and then be able to go along enough to still be friends with the group, but independent enough to choose a better friend within the group is an excellent model for young girls.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – Kittens are nursing, so cat nipples are mentioned once.
Profanity – “shut up”  Mr. Sylvester starts to swear, but all that comes out is “d-”
Death, Violence and Gore – In China sometimes they drown unwanted kittens.  A neighbor used to have a dog but it died.  A Chinese storybook hero kills a tiger with his bare hands.  The children worry that the neighbors will get another dog and the dog will tear the kitten to bits.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.

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