Watercress - book cover
Growing Up & Facts of Life
  • Publisher : Neal Porter Books
  • Published : 30 Mar 2021
  • Pages : 32
  • ISBN-10 : 0823446247
  • ISBN-13 : 9780823446247
  • Language : English


Caldecott Medal Winner
Newbery Honor Book
APALA Award Winner
Gathering watercress by the side of the road brings a girl closer to her family's Chinese Heritage.
New England Book Award Winner
A New York Times Best Children's Book of the Year
A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

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.

A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of the Year
A Washington Post Best Children's Book of the Year
A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
Named a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, BookPage, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Lunch, Shelf Awareness, and more!
An NPR 'Book We Love!'
A Horn Book Fanfare Title
A Mighty Girl Best Book of the Year
A Floyd's Pick Honor Book
A CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Book of the Year
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!

Editorial Reviews

"Wang's multilayered, poetic text allows anger, guilt and grief to coexist with love and hope. Chin's captivating watercolor art, executed with a mix of Chinese and Western techniques, combines meticulous, gut-wrenching realism with dreamlike panoramas."-The New York Times

"Children often don't understand why their parents act as they do; parents often forget to explain. Watercress reminds us of the importance of filling in those gaps."-The Wall Street Journal

"An understated, visually stunning exploration of memory and family history."-The Boston Globe

★ "An adept gem of a picture book"-Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

★ "Understated, deep, and heart-rending-bring tissues."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

★ "Simple text and beautiful illustrations pack a strong emotional punch . . . A powerful story sure to awaken empathy and ­curiosity"-School Library Journal, Starred Review

★ "this quietly affecting book encourages honesty, communication, and sharing of family history."-The Horn Book, Starred Review

★ "Watercress is a delicate and deeply felt exploration of memory, trauma and family."-BookPage, Starred Review

★ "It's a deft exploration of the information and emotion gap between parents, especially immigrant parents, and children, and it may give space for kids to learn more about their own family history and customs . . ."-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review

★ "Through powerful poetry and exquisite illustrations, the daughter of immigrants relates an emotional childhood memory that opened the door to her Chinese roots."-Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

"The story reveals the chasms that can separate first-generation immigrant parents from their Americanized children and how confronting past traumas from another country and time can bring a family closer together. Chin's illustrations masterfully bring to life the vast cornfields and colors of rural America." -Booklist

Readers Top Reviews

SsmPineapple PieAnna
This book transported me back to my childhood in California in the 1960's. The car and the finding of edible treats by a roadside. I remember finding blackberries, walnuts and figs walking to elementary school. In Florida in the 1970's, citrus groves were in every neighborhood and tangerines, oranges and grapefruit were so plentiful they could be gathered untouched, from the ground. Thank you.
CHALK Academy
Andrea Wang’s new book, Watercress, is truly beautiful, though a bit serious. At this time, the story means more to me than my children who don’t quite understand the challenges of first generation immigrants. This particular story made me reflect on the vast differences in privilege with each successive generations in our family. As usual, illustrations by Jason Chin are expressive with realistic details that bring the story to life. [Originally reviewed on chalkacademy(dot)com]
This book was more for me (35 years old) than my 7 year old daughter even though it’s age appropriate. I am a different kind of parent than what my parents were. This book gave me some sense of unity and feeling being seen. If you have been through something like that you would know what I’m talking about. I can see this book being in the rotation.
Wendy Baker
Watercress is a beautifully written and illustrated book about an embarrassing memory from the author's childhood. Stopping by the side of the road to pick watercress is not something a girl in Ohio wants to be seen doing, however, as a result of this experience, she learns things about her parent's past that she did not know and gains a better appreciation for them and her history. "This story is both an apology and a love letter to my parents. It's also an encouragement to all children who feel different and to families with difficult pasts - share your memories. Tell your stories. They are essential." Andrea Wang I can't recommend this book enough.
Ryan Roberts
Wow! What a gorgeous book, jam-packed with emotion. A book that highlights the embarrassment children might feel from being different- whether from a different culture, or a different class than their peers. Ultimately, it circles back to a feeling of family pride. "I am ashamed of being ashamed"... What a great line and complex emotion for a child to work through. And, of course, Jason Chin's illustrations are amazing. Two thumbs way up from me!

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