Review: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

“When I woke up that morning and saw the red and gold leaves swirling around my backyard, I just knew it was gonna be my kind of day.” page 1

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Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han, illustrated by Julia Kuo.
Little Brown and Co., Hachette Book Group, New York, 2011.
Realistic fiction, 149 pages plus discussion guide.
Lexile:  600L  .
AR Level:  3.8 (worth 2.0 points)  .
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

Korean-American third-grader Clara Lee has one big dream – to be Little Miss Apple Pie in her town’s annual Apple Blossom Festival.  To make it she’ll need a lot of luck!  But she’s also having bad dreams at night – maybe Grandpa can help.

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream resized

There are two covers for this book.  I have the version with the red background, which gives the impression that this book is intended for older middle-grade students.  The main character is in third grade and while a somewhat older student could certainly read and enjoy it, this is an elementary school novel aimed at the 2nd to 5th grade chapter book market.

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Graphic Novel Review: Johnny Hiro

A unique spin on both superhero life and adulting.

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao.
Tor, New York, 2012 (some materials previously published in other formats).
Everyday superhero graphic novel, 190 pages.
Not leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not posting it on Fiction Friday.

Johnny Hiro is your average half-Japanese busboy with a knack for running into the absurd on the streets of New York.  He works in a sushi restaurant and dreams of one day being a chef, but is content to come home to his Japanese girlfriend Mayumi Murakami.

Johnny Hiro Half Asian All Hero

This was a fairly random find.  I had never heard of this book, never read a review of it or seen a promotion of it before coming across it at a local used bookstore.  The half Asian in the title and a cursory glance through the pages, combined with the price, was enough for me to purchase this delightfully whimsical book.

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Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

“What kept Minli from becoming dull and brown like the rest of the village were the stories her father told her every night at dinner.” page 3

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.
Little Brown and Co, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2009.  My edition 2011.
Middle grade fantasy, 279 pages plus Author’s Note and Reader’s Guide.
Lexile:  810L  .
AR Level:  5.5 (worth 7.0 points)  .
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

Minli’s life in the Valley of the Fruitless Mountain is mostly drudgery, made easier by her father’s stories and more difficult to bear with her mother’s complaining.  So she decides to listen to both and sets out on a quest for the Old Man of the Moon – a quest that will take her to unexpected places.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Although I didn’t know much about this one, I picked up a used copy because I’m familiar with some of Grace Lin’s picture books and recalled some reviews recommending it.  I was absolutely blown away and need to read the rest of this series!  I think the kids will like it too if they ever get around to reading it (we are so behind on reading).

This fantasy novel incorporates elements of Chinese culture and mythology but blends them into a new story.  It utilizes stories-within-a-story plot devices very successfully.

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Review: The Refugees

“It was a trivial secret, but one I would remember as vividly as my feeling that while some people are haunted by the dead, others are haunted by the living.” page 71

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Grove Press, Grove Atlantic, New York, 2017.
Adult short story collection, 207 pages.
Not leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

This collection of eight short stories is tied together not so much by the characters as by a common theme – they all deal with Vietnamese immigrants, albeit in very different and sometimes surprising ways.

The Refugees cover resized

I first heard of this book when reading an interview with the author prior to the release.  Instantly knew I wanted to read it and put in a library request.  Received it at the end of April and was about to send it back unread because I didn’t think I’d have time to read it, but then Shenwei posted about the Asian Lit Bingo Challenge … so I read one story at a time during lunch breaks.  Because of the tight time frame for this challenge and needing to return the book, I only read it once.

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#AsianLitBingo TBR

I think most of the people who read this blog have already seen the #AsianLitBingo posts from Shenwei or Huntress.  In case you haven’t, this is a challenge to read books by Asian authors in celebration of Asian American Heritage Month.

AsianLitBingo Banner TBR

Since one part of the challenge is to review these books (there is also a reading-only option), I am going to do a few re-reads of books I read previously but haven’t reviewed.  After looking at the bingo sheet and the books I had around me, I think my best bet is to focus on the left-hand column. Continue reading “#AsianLitBingo TBR”

Wisconsinite Review: Amina’s Voice

Amina’s Voice is a great new Muslim #ownvoices MG novel. Here’s my take on the Wisconsin references in the book.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.
Salaam Reads imprint, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2017.
Middle grade realistic fiction, 197 pages.
Lexile:  800L .
AR Level:  Not yet leveled.

Amina is shy and a little afraid of some of the big changes coming with middle school, like a chance to enter a singing contest or her uncle coming to stay.  Her best friend is Soojin, a Korean immigrant who’s finally becoming an American citizen and wants to change her name.  They find that their different cultures have some cultural norms in common, and they bonded over having unusual names.  But if Soojin changes her name, is she also going to change her best friend?

Amina's Voice resized

There are going to be lots of reviews of this book, so I thought for my review, I’d take a different perspective. Kirin at Notes from an Islamic School Librarian reviewed Amina’s Voice and had only one issue with it, which confirmed my idea that this #ownvoice novel is a great representation of Muslim culture.

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Web: Deaf YA and More

Katherine of FableHaven writes about her experiences reading YA as a Korean-American.

She also reviews a book I hadn’t heard of yet called Tone Deaf.  After a bit I found some information about it and an interview with the author on a Deaf book blog, Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature.

You're Welcome, Universe
You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner.

Based on this review over at Disability in Kidlit, I just ordered a copy of You’re Welcome, Universe, so I was happy to then see that Becca was pleased with the Indian-American representation.  If you’re interested, you can read the first 50 pages here.  I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing.