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“As her family drives along a road in rural Ohio, a girl’s parents suddenly stop when they see watercress growing by the side of the road. She’s embarrassed when she has to help collect it and refuses to eat it when it’s prepared for dinner. This prompts a family discussion of her parents’ childhoods in China that helps the girl gain appreciation for her parents and for the watercress. A lovely story about family heritage.”
— Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
Caldecott Medal Winner Newbery Honor Book APALA Award Winner
A story about the power of sharing memories—including the painful ones—and the way our heritage stays with and shapes us, even when we don’t see it.
New England Book Award Winner A New York Times Best Children’s Book of the Year A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book
While driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl's Chinese immigrant parents spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. They stop the car, grabbing rusty scissors and an old paper bag, and the whole family wades into the mud to gather as much as they can.
At first, she's embarrassed. Why can't her family just get food from the grocery store, like everyone else? But when her mother shares a bittersweet story of her family history in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged—and the memories left behind in pursuit of a new life.
Together, they make a new memory of watercress.
Author Andrea Wang calls this moving, autobiographical story “both an apology and a love letter to my parents.” It’s a bittersweet, delicate look at how sharing the difficult parts of our histories can create powerful new moments of family history, and help connect us to our roots.
Jason Chin’s illustrations move between China and the American Midwest and were created with a mixture of traditional Chinese brushes and western media. The dreamy, nostalgic color palette brings this beautiful story to life.
An endnote from the author describes her personal connection to the story, and an illustrator’s note touches on both the process of the painting, and the emotional meaning brought to the work. New England Book Award Winner A New York Times Best Children’s Book of the Year 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 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book Winner of the Cybils Award An SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Winner A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year An ALSC Notable Children's Book Named a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, BookPage, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Lunch, Shelf Awareness , and more! A CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book An NPR 'Book We Love!' A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!
About the Author
Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando. She was inspired to write Watercress by her experience growing up in rural Ohio as a child of Chinese immigrants. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.
Jason Chin is a celebrated author and illustrator of children's books. His book Grand Canyon was awarded a Caldecott Honor, a Sibert Honor, and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. He is the author and illustrator of Your Place in the Universe, which Kirkus called "A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge", as well as other acclaimed nonfiction titles--Coral Reefs, Redwoods, Gravity, and Island: A Story of the Galapagos-- which have received numerous starred reviews and other accolades. He is also the illustrator of Stephanie Parsley Ledyard's debut title Pie Is for Sharing and Miranda Paul's Water is Water and Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born, the latter, a Boston Horn Globe Honor Book. He lives in Vermont with his wife and children.
"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