Can't Stop Reading

Lucky for me I get a hefty discount at work, because I just can't seem to stop myself!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lauren Child's new book, The Princess and the Pea came in today. I was super pumped, because I love her Charlie & Lola books, and Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent was also fabulous. I can't figure out why, but this one just doesn't do it for me. The illustrations are a super cool collaboration between Child and photographer Polly Borland, and if nothing else, it's worth taking a look at the book for them alone. But the book kinda left me cold. I'm wondering if it might be that this is one of my least favourite fairy tales, because I always thought it was kind of stupid. Either way, cool illustrations, but just not doing it for me.

I spent most of yesterday reading an ARC that I picked up at a bookfair in February. This one is called Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), and its by first time author Justina Chen Headley. The book follows a very important summer in the life of Patty Ho, a half white, half Taiwanese American. Patty lives in a small town near Seattle, where there are only a handful of minorities. Thanks to a belly button-reading fortune teller, Patty gets shipped off to math camp at Stanford for most of the summer. Little does she know that this is the best thing that could happen to her. While in California, Patty begins to realize that being a visible minority is not a bad thing, and that being half & half makes her even more unique, in a good way.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that Headley really brought the reader into Patty's head. I have never been a visible minority, or had an identity crisis about being not quite one thing, or not quite another, but I really got where Patty was coming from. And seeing her realize the good things about herself, and her family was really wonderful. I think this would be a great book for any biracial teens, or even anyone who doesn't fit the mould in a small town. By far the best parts of the book are when Patty is seeing how much bigger the world is than her small close-minded town. When she returns triumphantly to her hometown, she is determined to not just be the quiet, studious Asian girl, but to stand up to her tormentors, and even the unintentional racism of her friends' parents.

In the last few years there have been a lot more kids novels with Asian-American characters being published. I'm hoping this trend will continue into Canada, where we seem to have only picture books underway so far. I would definitely recommend anybody interested in these issues pick this one up, and I will definitely be keeping an eye on Justina Chen Headley.

The Princess and the Pea
written by Lauren Child illustrated by Lauren Child & Polly Borland
ISBN 0141381388
48 pages

Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen Headley
ISBN 0316011282
256 pages


  • At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Hooked on Kids' Books said…

    Just discovered this blog. Nice to know there's a "kindred spirit" out there. For a Canadian kids' novel with a mixed heritage character, check out "The Truth About Rats (And Dogs)" by Jacqueline Pearce (forthcoming, Orca Books, Fall 2006).

  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger bookstore girl said…

    Thanks, HOKB! You should definitely check out some the sites I have on my links, 'cause there really are some other great sites out there. I'm sure I'll be reading that Jacqueline Pearce one, as I try and read as much of what Orca puts out as possible.


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