Nine-and-a-half-year-old budding author Cilla Lee-Jenkins returns with her newest work—a Classic, replete with Romance, Adventure, and Drama.
What with learning about Chinese wedding traditions in preparation for Auntie Eva’s wedding, trying to prevent a classmate from stealing her best friend, and helping her baby sister “find her destiny” (and learn to say “Cilla”), Cilla has no shortage of adventures for her second book. Some readers may already know Cilla from Tan’s first book, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire (2017), and her effusive, humorous narration immediately sets newcomers at ease (“And even though my mom said there wasn’t anything for me to do, I was a BIG help anyway”). Cilla’s blended family reflects the reality of many children; her experiences as a multiracial child navigating different traditions with her Chinese grandparents and white grandparents ring true. Cantonese speakers will especially enjoy Cilla’s ardent efforts to speak the language. The book may be a bit long for some who might otherwise enjoy Cilla’s escapades, making it a cozier choice for a family read-aloud or a more tenacious young reader. Wulfekotte’s intermittent pencil-sketch illustrations add lightness and humor—perhaps leaving readers wishing there were more of them.
This family story feels like a modern classic. (Fiction. 7-10)