“What was out of style yesterday could be back today, Mr. Eddly. You just never know.” I then walked past him with a little sashay in my step.” p. 44
“Grandpa was in the TV room watching one of his Korean soap operas, the kind where women are always crying and the men wear fancy suits.” p. 90 Cracked me up. A Korean drama is one those hard-to-forget experiences. Armed with tissues, be ready to laugh and cry.
Aaah, Clara Lee!
CLARA LEE AND THE APPLE PIE DREAM, written by Jenny Han and illustrated by Julia Kuo, has all the flavors of your favorite apple dessert: it’s sweet, and the occasional sourness adds a kick that makes you go back for an encore. And add whip cream on top.
Clare Lee is a Korean American third grader full of life, and gifted with serious leadership skills that occasionally get her into trouble. Though the plot evolves around an apple pie contest she’s afraid of but dream of entering, the richness of the story, from my point of view, lies in the depth and diversity of topics explored:
– How does someone as young as Clara Lee handles being bi-cultural? At some point, she struggles with the idea of not being “American” enough.
– She dreams that her grandfather, with whom she lives, passes away. Of course she would be scared. What does it it mean in the Korean culture?
– She’s terrorized by the idea of getting on a stage, facing a crowd, and giving a speech. Will she find a way to overcome her fears in order to enter the contest? Does she have a shot at becoming Miss Little Apple Pie?
One of the elements I enjoyed in CLARA LEE AND THE APPLE PIE DREAM is its celebration of what is at the core of the American culture: its diversity. The tone of the book, the voice of the character, which Jenny Han nailed, is assertive and funny. Clara Lee’s story kept me on my toes because I wondered throughout what would happen to her grandfather. I also enjoyed the bits and pieces about her life as a Korean American, learning how relatives address each other, what they eat…
This is a fun read for 9 and up. 🙂
* published in January 2011
* Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
* Source: won the book at a raffle.