Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything - Anne Wilsdorf

Ruby loved the eye test. In fact, she had a copy of it taped to the ceiling above her bed. At night she often fell asleep practicing it through one eye or another, just as a musician might practice a piece of music.

I'm always on the lookout for kids' books that deal with Chinese-Americans, particularly girls, so that when my daughters are a little older they can read about characters who look a little like them. This is the second book in the Ruby Lu series, which was described as "an Asian-American Judy Moody" by the author of the Judy Moody series (which I've never read). It's a chapter book, with cute characters and stories but doesn't really build to anything. Robyn and I read it and thought it was fun, but didn't really feel like the plot was going anywhere. However, for younger kids it's probably just fine and I appreciated the multiracial cast of characters.

In this book Ruby Lu's aunt, uncle, and cousin immigrate to the States and are living with them while they search for jobs. Her cousin, Flying Duck, is in the same grade as Ruby. Flying Duck is (of course) totally fascinating to Ruby and her classmates: not only is she an immigrant (and might as well be an alien from outer space), but she is also deaf and speaks English, Cantonese, and Chinese sign language, and can read lips.

Again, there's not much to describe plot-wise but it follows the girls through the school year and summer break. There's swimming lessons, a stray dog, eye tests, and an on-again, off-again friendship with her next-door neighbor Emma.

We're starting to read it to Ridley now; while Ruby is of course a rambunctious kid, I think she's not quite as obnoxious as Junie B. Jones, and the best part is that the book isn't written as if she wrote it, which means the grammar, spelling, and vocabulary are all much better.

Fed to jonathan's brain | June 28, 2008 | Comments (0)


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