A fifth-grader who dreams of becoming a famous actor cannot find role models that reflect her Cambodian background.
Following Dream On, Amber (2015), Shevah returns with another book, this time deftly navigating the complexity of being a transracial adoptee. Dara knows she’s perfect for the lead role in her school’s production of The Sound of Music. When she fails to land a role, she’s thinks it’s because she was adopted from Cambodia. Her dark brown skin and brown hair don’t look the part of Austrian nun. Dreams crushed, Dara struggles for a sense of belonging. Her younger sister, Georgia, who was adopted from Russia, looks more like their British parents than Dara does. A classmate taunts her Asian heritage, calling her “noodlehead,” yet she has no memories of her 18 months in the orphanage. She feels compelled to choose sides when her friend Vanna, another Cambodian adoptee, invites Dara to visit their orphanage together. With the support of her ginger-haired older brother Felix, she reluctantly joins an after-school drama class. With the help of her friends and family, Dara writes a play about her own life—in which a Cambodian-British girl can be the star. Crawford-White’s charming doodle illustrations along the margins reflects Dara’s inner monologues throughout the book.
This funny, charismatic heroine will capture her readers’ hearts. (Fiction. 8-13)