Last week we reviewed the picture book The East-West House which featured the true story of a Hapa protaganist: designer Isamu Noguchi.
This week’s HapaMama Summer Reading picks feature a pair of Middle Grade chapter books written by Lisa Yee and illustrated by Dan Santat: Bobby vs. Girls (Sometimes) and Bobby the Brave (Accidentally).
As a category, Middle Grade books tend to be filled with tales of schoolyard bullies, annoying younger siblings and mean teachers. Unfortunately, those stories often come with tween attitude and gross-out humor. Not so with a pair of books by Chinese American author Lisa Yee
centering around fourth-grader Bobby Ellis-Chan. Though Bobby’s name makes it apparent that he’s the child of a Chinese American mother and Caucasian father, mixed-race identity is not the main focus of the stories. While Bobby worries about living up to his parents expectations, those expectations don’t come from a Tiger Mom, but from his former pro football player dad.
“Those clamoring for fiction with nonwhite or biracial characters in which race is not the focus will welcome nine-year-old Bobby Ellis-Chan.”
–Horn Book, starred review
What you will find in the Bobby books are well-written, sympathetic tales of a boy who struggles to navigate a world that will feel very familiar to elementary school students. Big Brother read Bobby the Brave (Accidentally) in third-grade and loved it. It is AR (Accelerated Reading, which is a computer quiz system used by many schools) level 4.3, which means it’s suitable for a child who reads at approximately the fourth grade level.
Bobby vs. Girls (Sometimes) is on our own list of books to read this summer, so I can’t speak for it firsthand, but Terry Hong of Smithsonian Bookdragon says:
Yee writes yet another pitch-perfect tale about the prickly relationships between boys and girls as they painstakingly untangle the often overwhelming challenges of having to grow up.
And if you’re in the Silicon Valley or greater San Francisco Bay Area, you can meet author illustrator Dan Santat next week at Hicklebee’s Bookstore in San Jose, as part of the store’s summer series, featuring graphic novels.
Go Graphic! Kick-Off with Dan Santat
Monday, June 20 at 2:00 p.m.
1378 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, California
In case you’re not familiar with it, Hicklebee’s is a wonderful independent children’s book seller which hosts many author events. For more information, visit the Hicklebee’s website
Have a book you think other multicultural families will love? Leave a comment or send me an email by clicking on the Contact Me tab at the top of the page.
And remember, check back next Thursday for more HapaMama Summer Reading picks!