Title: Only One Year
Author: Andrea Cheng
Illustrator: Nicole Wong
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Concepts: jobs, child care, opportunity cost
Review: Sharon's parents have made a difficult decision. Her father works late every day, and her mother is starting a new job as office assistant at the junior high school. While Sharon and her younger sister both go to elementary school, their brother Di Di is too young for pre-school, and their parents are reluctant to leave him with a child care provider. So Di Di will spend a year in China with their grandparents until he is old enough for pre-school.
Sharon and her sister feel a range of conflicting emotions before Di Di leaves and while he is gone. They are angry at their parents for sending their brother away, and they miss him terribly. But after a while they become more involved in their own activities, and over time, reading their grandparents' letters and seeing new pictures of Di Di take on less urgency. They feel even more confused when Di Di returns, speaking a different language and crying much of the time. Did their parents make a big mistake?
This new addition to the literature comes at a welcome time as working families all over the country face difficult choices about child care. With the high cost of daycare and concerns about leaving young children with other people, numerous families turn to extended family members as a source of care. Only One Year provides a glimpse of the challenges that a tight-knit family experiences when they feel that their best option lies across the ocean in China. Deep issues perhaps, but clear text and a child's point of view help to make this book an ideal read for young learners.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children