I was in a bookstore a few days ago and saw The Year of the Book facing out on a display, so bright and cheery that it was practically begging to be picked up. This may be a strange reason for an immediate attraction to a book, but the first thing I loved about Andrea Cheng’s book is its feel. Hard to explain – you need to touch it. Maybe because I’ve been reading on my Nook a lot recently, and as convenient as it is, the Nook doesn’t provide any sensory satisfaction, but this one has a cool feel – kind of textured. And then of course, the title – The Year of the Book. How could I not pick it up?
The story is about a fourth grade girl named Anna who has trouble making real friends and prefers reading. I know this girl! She was me in fourth grade (and second and third and fifth…) and she is also many of the kids I talk with in the school library everyday. Over the course of the story, Anna learns about making friends with “real” people, how complicated friendships can be, and how much joy they bring.
A couple of things that stand out about this book (besides the feel of it) are the way Anna talks about the books she is reading and the fact that many of her most rewarding friendships are with adults in her life, in particular a lovely portrayal of her friendship with Ray, the school crossing guard.
This is a book about the joy of reading and the importance of having true friends. It reminds me so much of Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses – a book Anna would love!