Dreaming of being the Apple Pie Princess in her town's Apple Blossom Festival, Korean-American third grader Clara Lee defies a classmate who claims to be more deserving and bravely makes a speech in front of the whole school to win the honor. This appealing family-and-school story focuses as much on Clara Lee's relationships with her little sister, Emmeline, and her "dream genius" grandfather as it does on her friends and the competition. Han, who has previously written about teens (The Summer I Turned Pretty, 2009) and preteens (Shug, 2006), captures an 8-year-old's perspective perfectly. The first-person narrative includes imaginative play, family squabbles, the school-bus experience and a touching speech about the special joys of small-town life. Her grandfather assures her: "One hundred percent American. One hundred percent Korean. Doesn't make you less than anybody else. It makes you more." The message shines through but doesn't overwhelm this engaging chapter book that will be welcomed by middle-grade fans of Clementine. Final art not seen. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
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