Wang wrote the fantastic The Prince and the Dressmaker, a comic with a wonderful message about acceptance and love, and so I was looking forward to this one, which seemed less fairytale-like with its cover of two young girls sitting together.
But similar to The Prince and the Dressmaker, this is a story about an unlikely friendship.
Moon Lim and her mother move into the granny flat behind Christine’s house, after Christine’s parents offer it to the struggling widow and her child. Christine isn’t sure about Moon at first, she’s rumoured to be free with her fists, she’s impulsive and rambunctious, while Christine is reserved and obedient, trying hard to please her parents. But they soon share a love for dancing to K-pop music and plan to join the school’s talent show.
Moon has a secret though, she sometimes sees celestial beings who want them to join her, so she says. Christine eventually learns what the reason behind that is. And that kind of surprised me, but later, when I read the author’s note about her own background, it made a lot of sense.
I really liked how Wang showed the diversity among the Chinese-American community. Christine’s family is what you would consider more typically Asian – hardworking, studious, plays the violin, attends Chinese school, strict parents, that kind of thing. Moon is more of a free spirit, she doesn’t know much (if any) Chinese, she’s vegetarian, and more drawn to the arts.
Stargazing is a great comic for kids but I think adults will like this one too. I definitely did.
I expected this book to be about an imaginary friend, an imaginary cat. And there was a cat, a giant one named Crenshaw, who happens to be imaginary.
It opens really cute with a boy spotting Crenshaw on a surfboard.
But the reality of this boy’s life soon enters the story. Crenshaw made his first appearance when Jackson and his family had to live out of their minivan. His parents used to be musicians but his father has MS and his mother now works part-time jobs to get by.
And now, a few years later, he’s back again, when things seem to be not going as well. Jackson, who’s heading into fifth grade, wishes his parents would realize that he’s old enough to understand their financial difficulties. Jackson is scared that they have to go back to living in their car again.
And Crenshaw, with his cartwheels, splits, and penchant for bubble baths, both helps to distract him and understand their situation.
We listened to this audiobook and I was surprised by how much my kids enjoyed it. I had to stop the audiobook here and there just to make sure the 5yo (and sometimes the 8yo) understood what was going on. We haven’t quite read a book like Crenshaw before, one which talked about hunger and poverty and eviction. I had to explain about eviction – and as I did I was thankful that this was something we’ve never had to worry about. Perhaps it was because of this audiobook that I started on my current nonfiction read, Evicted.
A middle grade fantasy filled with a hint of danger & darkness (Morrigan Crow is a Cursed Child, blamed for local misfortunes, doomed to die on her 11th birthday), plenty of charm & humour (a giant talking cat does the housekeeping). Also there are trials to get into the Wondrous Society and even after I’ve finished the book I still haven’t the faintest idea what the society is about, but I’d love to join it any day (where’s my invitation?)