1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006

Year of the Dog is one of twelve years of the Chinese Lunar Calendar cycle. It is also sometimes referred to as the Year of the Fox.

The Chinese Zodiac characterizes people born in the Year of the Dog as loyal and honest, and always sticking to their firm morals. They are trustworthy, however they are known to tell white lies in order to keep things calm or stir things up. The Dog serves as an excellent confidant and reliable friend. It is also believed that they make good leaders in small groups.

The Dog can be narrow minded and stubborn at times, fighting battles between right and wrong to the bitter end. Dogs have trouble taking things lightly and remaining unruffled during debates about issues close to his heart. They are known to be critical and uncouth in an argument. The Dog, although generally a social sign, will occasionally need to hide out alone in order to recuperate a hurt ego or moral loss.

The Year of the Dog is also a book by Grace Lin. It is a coming-of-age novel based on Grace Lin’s real childhood. The story follows Grace through one year- The Year of the Dog- as she grows up as the child of Taiwanese immigrants in the United States. Although in the beginning Grace feels that her parents do not understand her struggle to integrate Taiwanese and American cultures, she learns throughout the book about stories in her parents’ lives that her own stories seem to emulate.

Grace’s has also spent her entire childhood with her siblings as the only Taiwanese children at their school, until another girl, Melody, arrives one day. The girls become friends and Grace soon realizes that, even though Melody is also Taiwanese and their backgrounds are similar, there are still as many elements of their cultures that differ as there are elements that parallel. The girls encourage each other to do things outside of their perceived limits, helping each other discover new talents they did not know they had. They enter a science fair together, learn to cook traditional Taiwanese dishes, and Grace even enters and wins a writing contest.

In the end, Grace has grown substantially, learning to appreciate her multi-cultural background much more than she had before.

The Year of the Dog’s reading level is for children around the age of 8 or 9 and is good up until about 12 or 13 when they start getting cynical. It’s got wonderful little ink drawings dotted through out the pages and the margins, all done by Lin. They are a nice change to the usual chapter book illustrations, as they are done almost as doodles on a note page. The book was published by Little and Brown Young Readers in 2005.

Thanks to:
The Year of the Dog,
Grace Lin

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