Shu-Li and her classmates try to harness the magic of a neighbor’s pear tree to save their school.
It’s the end of summer vacation as Shu-Li heads to Mrs. Rossi’s house with her friend Tamara in tow. Shu-Li loves her volunteer work reading to the warmhearted Mrs. Rossi for her “Deed of the Week,” especially because the elderly woman has a beautiful garden and shares wonderful tales about magic pear trees. Back at school, misfortune arrives as Shu-Li is informed that her beloved neighborhood school may close and Tamara’s family may be forced to move away. When Shu-Li’s classmates play in Mrs. Rossi’s garden, a pear falls on Diego’s head as he wishes that his dog recovers from illness. When Diego’s dog makes a full recovery, the children begin to believe that Mrs. Rossi’s pear tree can make their wishes come true. Yee’s grasp of childhood delights and the diversity of characters and cultures are a winning combination. Shu-Li shares her Chinese culture with her class at a Vancouver school with a special Aboriginal program. Readers will also appreciate that the story is grounded in reality—the children begin to rely on their own resourceful problem-solving—as it deftly weaves in myth, fairy tales, and oral folklore. Wang’s inked illustrations are engaging and lovable, flowing beautifully with the story with restrained candor.
A lovely read in the Shu-Li series that provides diversity and celebrations of heritage for young readers. (Fiction. 7-10)