“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
Gathering watercress by the side of the road brings a girl closer to her family's Chinese Heritage.
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 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.
★ "An adept gem of a picture book, encompassing both universal intergenerational embarrassment and a specific diasporic shift in cultural perception."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ "Wang’s moving poetry paired with—and precisely laid out on—Chin’s masterfully detailed illustrations capture both an authentic Midwestern American landscape and a very Chinese American family, together infusing a single event with multiple layers laden with emotion, memory, and significance. Understated, deep, and heart-rending—bring tissues."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "Simple text and beautiful illustrations pack a strong emotional punch in this picture book. . . . A powerful story sure to awaken empathy and curiosity"—School Library Journal, 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
★ "Transcending space and time, memories bring a Chinese American family together. . . . this quietly affecting book encourages honesty, communication, and sharing of family history."—The Horn Book, Starred Review
★ "Wang’s writing is tender and detailed, describing the watercress as 'delicate and slightly bitter, like Mom’s memories of home.' With raw honesty, the book’s first-person narration allows readers to see through the girl’s eyes. We experience both the sting of her shame and her newfound understanding alongside her. Caldecott Honor illustrator Jason Chin’s soft, expressive watercolors lean on sepia tones, an appropriate choice for a tale that serves as a recollection of memory. . . . Watercress is a delicate and deeply felt exploration of memory, trauma and family." —BookPage, 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