It's a deftly worked resolution, inspirational message and all.

READ REVIEW

IN THE YEAR OF THE BOAR AND JACKIE ROBINSON

A young Chinese arrival, self-named Shirley Temple Wong, finds a secure, bicultural niche in 1945-46 Brooklyn—as, it's suggested, did Chinese American novelist Lord (Spring Moon).

The opening passages, meant to evoke a traditional Chinese household, have a slightly artificial, storybook quality; but once Lord gets Shirley to the Brooklyn neighborhood of look-alike houses, and into P.S. 8 where not two children look alike, this becomes an endearing, warming account of immigrant woes and joys. Her first afternoon, after Father has shown her around, Shirley insists on going to fetch cigarettes—"Rukee Sike"; she proudly procures them, from a substitute store ("Nothing to it at all"), then loses her way back ("What a fool she was!")—but Father and his guests, finding her, still march her home triumphant. She is put into the fifth grade, not only knowing no English, but actually a year ahead of herself (asked her age, she held up ten fingers—because a Chinese child is one year old at birth); in response to a wink, she takes to blinking (a tic, wonders the teacher); introduced, she bows. And, from her general differentness, she's soon ignored, friendless; a failure, too, as "China's little ambassador" of her mother's imagining. (In a poignant bit, P.S. 8's second "Chinese" student proves to be from Chattanooga, and not to speak Chinese.) The turnaround starts with two black eyes from Mabel, "the tallest and the strongest and the scariest girl in all the fifth grade." Shirley doesn't tattle; Mabel befriends her—picking her for stickball, coaching her; and, from an inadvertent resemblance to Jackie Robinson (" 'Cause she's pigeontoed and stole home"), she develops a passion for the Dodgers and an identification with Robinson ("making a better America," proclaims her teacher) that climaxes when she presents him with the keys to P.S. 8. But in a nice parallel with a Chinese tale, this identification also allows Shirley to wear "two gowns," and to imagine her Chinese relatives clapping along with the P.S. 8 audience.

It's a deftly worked resolution, inspirational message and all.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1984

ISBN: 978-0-06-440175-3

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1984

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A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be...

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real.

Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuries-old Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.”

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42843-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Readers will cheer the birth of this comedian.

STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG!

Eleven-year-old Yumi Chung doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch, but she secretly harbors dreams of becoming a comedian. Shy + Asian + Girl = Comedian? Why, yes. Yes, it does.

Winston Preparatory Academy is a shy person’s nightmare. Yumi hides from the beautiful girls and the bullies who call her “Yu-meat” because she smells like her parents’ Korean barbecue restaurant. This summer, her parents are demanding that she go to Korean summer school, or hagwon, to get a near-perfect score on the high school entrance exam—because that is the only way to attend an elite college, like her superachiever sister, a 20-year-old med student. Yumi collects all of her fears and frustrations (and jokes) in her Super-Secret Comedy Notebook. When a case of mistaken identity allows her to attend a comedy camp taught by her YouTube idol, Yumi is too panicked to correct the problem—and then it spirals out of control. With wonderful supporting characters, strong pacing, and entertaining comedy bits, debut author Kim has woven a pop song of immigrant struggle colliding with comedy and Korean barbecue. With their feet in two different cultures, readers listen in on honest conversations, full of halting English and unspoken truths painting a realistic picture of 21st-century first-generation Americans—at least a Korean version. By becoming someone else, Yumi learns more about herself and her family in an authentic and hilarious way.

Readers will cheer the birth of this comedian. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55497-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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