Fourth Cousin, also known as Bandit, has spent her whole childhood in China, surrounded by her loving family. When her father, who lives in America, sends for her and her mother, Bandit's whole life changes, including her name. She only knows a few American names, so after her family vetoes her becoming "Uncle Sam Wong", she decides to be "Shirley Temple Wong". Once she arrives in Brooklyn, she has to learn English and how to get around her neighborhood, as well as how to make friends with her classmates. Set during the late 1940's, it's the era of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson's rookie season, and baseball becomes a bond that unites Shirley's class.
This book is based on Bette Bao Lord's childhood and is both funny and full of likable, entertaining characters. I read it in fourth grade (almost 20 years ago!) and just picked it up again and found it just as enjoyable, if not more so, than my first reading. Any kid can relate to Shirley's experiences with making friends and being forced to take piano lessons (right?). Shirley's English language mix-ups are particularly funny, and the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter give a really clear idea of who Shirley is. A great summer read!