Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
When ten-year-old Journey Song hears that two pandas are being held in a warehouse in her neighborhood, she worries that they may be hungry, cold and lonely. Horrified to learn that the pandas, originally destined for a zoo in Washington, might be shipped back to China because of a diplomatic spat between China and the United States, Journey rallies her friends and neighbors on the poverty-stricken Eastside. Her infectious enthusiasm for all things panda is hard to resist, and soon she's getting assistance from every corner of her tight-knit neighborhood.
About the author
Gabrielle Prendergast is a UK-born Canadian/Australian who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and daughter. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Gabrielle is the author of the verse novels Capricious and Audacious, which was shortlisted for a CLA Award, and The Frail Days in the Orca Limelights and the middle-grade novel Pandas on the Eastside. For More information, visit www.angelhorn.com.
- Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award nominee
- Short-listed, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards
- Short-listed, Diamond Willow Award nominee
- Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Book Award
- Short-listed, City of Vancouver Book Award
"This excellent novel contains a variety of characters and...some historical background on the Vietnam war...The action is fast-paced and will hold the reader's attention...An excellent read-aloud, this novel should promote both lively discussion and further study. It is well written, appropriate for intermediate readers but should interest advanced readers as well. This book is highly recommended for both an elementary library and classroom collection."
"[B]eautifully portrayed characters, all seen compassionately but realistically through Journey's eyes...a book to inspire readers to be the change they want to see in the world."
"The spirited and likeable character Journey Song navigates a life filled with struggles in this novel set in 1970s Canada...Young readers who deal with tough challenges will identify with Journey Song. Recommended."
School Library Connection
"Pandas on the Eastside is undoubtedly one of the grooviest books I've read in ages...Prendergast has created a multicultural community of complex, authentic characters, just like the real people who lived and continue to live in the neighbourhood...Sweetness and humour infuse this book...Prendergast's book celebrates the emergence of a young activist, and the power in a group of people coming together to make a difference. I hope we get to read more about Journey in the future."
Library Matters blog
"This book is heartfelt and hopeful, a gift to anyone of any age."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Prendergast...demonstrates a formidable skill for writing an intricately plotted, character-filled middle-grade novel that confronts prejudice without preaching. Yet it's her rich setting that truly drives the story, providing the impetus for the action and, consequently, acceptance."
Quill & Quire