Pandas on the Eastside

192p. ebook available. Orca. Oct. 2016. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781459811430.
Gr 3–6—In this title, Prendergast imagines what would have transpired if two pandas, donated by the Chinese government in 1972 to the United States, were stranded in a warehouse in Vancouver. Ten-year-old Journey Song lives in the Eastside, a poor neighborhood that is full of an eclectic cast of characters. There's Mr. Huang, the Taiwanese store owner who sometimes gives the girl day-old doughnuts; Kentucky Jack, an alcoholic who lives on the street, even in winter; Journey's teacher Miss Bickerstaff, whose brother just died in Vietnam; and Nancy, Journey's dyslexic best friend. Journey is an endearing character full of wit, intelligence, and charm. So when she makes it her mission to help the stranded pandas, this group of diverse characters band together to help her with her task. Prendergast asks readers to look at others as friends, not examine their differences, and consider what they can do to influence the happiness of others.
VERDICT This affecting novel with its delightful heroine and positive message will appeal to lovers of historical fiction.

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