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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream, written by Jenny Han, with pictures by Julia Kuo. Little Brown, Hachette. 2011. $16.99 ages 5 and up

"I grabbed that rope and started to climb. And climb, and climb. When I got scared, I didn't look down, I just kept climbing. Even when I got tired, I kept going. But then I got to that part of the rope where I usually jump off. For a minute there, I didn't know if I could keep going. But then I said to myself, "Come on, Good Luck. Take it to the top.""

Here's another book for those youngsters eagerly awaiting new early chapter books. It's not too long, has large typeface and is filled with engaging characters who relate to each other in unexceptional ways...just like in real life.

Clara Lee is in third grade and deals with many of the same issues that all eight-year-olds, friends, school, rivalry, dreams and worries. Her grandfather is Korean and an interpreter of those dreams. When Clara Lee has a bad one, he is reassuring. He tells her that death in a dream brings good luck, and that luck is hers! That is all she needs to hear. All day everything seems to be falling into its proper place, and it is all due to her GOOD LUCK!

Up until her luck changes, Clara Lee has dreamed of entering the competition to be Little Miss Apple Pie but has been too uncertain to try for it. She is, after all, a Korean American....maybe that is not enough when in competition with a 'true' American opponent. With good luck at hand, she decides that now is the time and she enters the contest.

Clara Lee is not a perfect character; but she has good friends, a wonderful caring grandfather, an occasionally annoying little sister and a slightly frustrating relationship with her parents. Haven't we all been there? And it will be so for many of the children who choose to read this spirited story. While life is not always as she might want it to be, Clara Lee faces each scenario with grit and ingenuity. What do you think? Might there be a sequel in the works?

I'd keep an eye out for it!

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