Watercress

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watercress andrea wang

Being different.

Being different from the other people around you and being different from your own parents. Not fun.

So what is it like to grow up in a family of immigrants, in a family who look different from the people around you and in a family whose memories are of another country and another history? To grow up in a family that wants to pick watercress out of the stream?

The old red Pontiac is rolling down the back roads of Ohio when suddenly the parents cry out and the car comes to a quick halt.  It's watercress...watercress is growing down in the stream by the road.

How many families would slam on those breaks and pile out of the car to dig the watercress out of the mud?

The daughter in this family can't believe she is having to do this.  She hopes no one she knows drives by and sees them ankle deep in water and mud pulling out watercress plants covered in snails.  This is not how people act in this community - they don't pull watercress.

So, what's so wrong about picking watercress?

When your memories of watercress touch part of you that says family, that says love, that says heritage and says our history, of course you hop out of the car and of course you pull the watercress.

The power of memory, the wonder of a shared history and the pain of family far away are connected to that watercress and those are the kinds of things that matter to everyone.

Walk a mile in my shoes ...it's so important to be able to step into someone else's shoes and see the world through their eyes understanding their past, their joy, their pain and the stories that have designed their lives.  Sometimes the shoes you need to walk in belong to your own parents or your own aunts and uncles and grandparents.

This is a beautiful story that reaches to our own sense of belonging and to the ghosts of our grandparents and great grandparents.  Who are we?  Where do we come from? What did our family endure?

Memories matter.  Honoring our history matters. Hearing the stories of our family ...that matters.

A gorgeous story that will resonate with every child whether their parents immigrated from China or not. We all hold stories.  We all come from the land of the stories of our grandparents and our parents...whether you live in Ohio or beyond our shores.

This is a magnificent opportunity to recognize the stories of others and to take a second look at and to cherish the stories that define you.

32 pages                           978-0823446247                       Ages 5-10

Keywords:  immigrants, family, identity, self respect, belonging, being different, parents, relatives, heritage, China, food, being embarrassed, understanding others, Asian American, diversity, diverse books, Asian culture, Asian American author, multicultural, fitting in

Editor's note: Neal Porter keeps blowing my mind with the books he is bringing to us.

Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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Gathering watercress by the side of the road brings a girl closer to her family's Chinese Heritage.

Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl's parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can.

At first, she's embarrassed. Why can't her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family's time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress.

Andrea Wang tells a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage, illustrated by award winning author and artist Jason Chin, working in an entirely new style, inspired by Chinese painting techniques. An author's note in the back shares Andrea's childhood experience with her parents.---from the publisher

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