Only One Year

By BookList

Although she sometimes finds him troublesome, fourth-grader Sharon can’t bear the idea that her two-year-old brother, Di Di, will spend a whole school year with relatives in China while she and her first-grade sister, Mary, go to school and her parents work. Time passes faster than she expects, as she and Mary forge a new relationship by building a dollhouse and playing school after homework is done. Di Di returns in the summer, and after a period of readjustment fits back into the family. Soon he’s off to preschool himself. While it is not atypical for immigrant families to send children to relatives, it is an unusual subject for a chapter book. The first-person narrative opens up Sharon’s conflicted feelings, and it is clear that what is best for Di Di is not easy for anyone, including her parents. Realistically, the fitting-back-in period is even more difficult than the absence. Supportive black-and-white illustrations and a glossary/pronunciation guide for the occasional Chinese words and phrases complete the appealing package of this gentle family story.