The Fastest Pig in the West - Randi Hacker

The Lins were the only Chinese people in Buffalo Grove, Kansas and the Imperial Dragon was the only Chinese restaurant in the four surrounding towns.

The Fastest Pig in the West is a slim little book aimed at 3rd through 5th graders, and published by the Kansas Asia Community Connection, part of the University of Kansas. There's an accompanying teacher's guide with lesson plans for each chapter. I found it on the rotating books in the kids' section of the library and thought it looked interesting.

It's a fairly simple book with sit-com level characters: Jimmy Lin plays violin but really wants to win at the track. Porter Macintosh is his nemesis, both on and off the track; he's the one who makes fun of "China Boy" in any way he can. Throw in the rest of the Lins (strict mom, easygoing dad, older sister, funny grandma) and some well-meaning but sort of ignorant adults at school, and you have the makings of a brief conflict-climax-resolution. Still, it's targeted at grade schoolers and as such I think it's about the right level for them.

After each chapter of the story is a small section about Chinese culture or history, like a brief explanation of the zodiac, or how to use chopsticks, or a bit of history about Chinese people in the U.S. As the parent of half-Chinese girls living in small-town Kansas, I can see something like this being useful to educate other kids about other cultures. However, it's also the sort of book I can imagine kids will pass on in favor of other, more exciting titles.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 08, 2008 | Comments (0)


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