I adore Clara Lee and sincerely hope that Jenny Han brings her back for another book. It's a fairly easy chapter book that is actually interesting andI adore Clara Lee and sincerely hope that Jenny Han brings her back for another book. It's a fairly easy chapter book that is actually interesting and filled with good writing (similes abound!) Plus it has a diversity positive message. And adorable illustrations. A definitely pick for an elementary library or third grade classroom.
As an aside, I was completely surprised that Jenny Han's mainly known for YA. This is SO different from the other books I've read by her. Again, I hope this wasn't a temporary departure, I hope Clara Lee is here to stay....more
I feel sort of bad about giving this only two stars, but it wasn't all that well written. Despite that, it was a fast and enjoyable read, but definiteI feel sort of bad about giving this only two stars, but it wasn't all that well written. Despite that, it was a fast and enjoyable read, but definitely not too mentally taxing. I'll probably keep reading the series. Not sure what that says about me though....more
There were many things I liked about this story, the story of coming from India to the United States, learning friendship with Mukta, trying to find aThere were many things I liked about this story, the story of coming from India to the United States, learning friendship with Mukta, trying to find a way to fit in - the way it shared some of her mother's struggles as well as Seema's own. Especially interesting is Seema's discovery of the shift in meaning between swastikas in India and their meaning in the US due to WWII and the Nazis.
I had a few problems with it though. The language of the book is easy enough for my more advanced third graders, but the book also contains a mild swear (the "h" word) which is largely unnecessary but makes the book less recommendable to young readers - no other themes are really too difficult for grades 3-6. Also, I felt the storyline about Seema and Carrie was far-fetched and a bit overly rosy towards the end. Life doesn't work out where the mean people turn out to be your good friends and since children learn from books and bring their own experiences to books, I think this will ring false with them, even if it is teaching a good lesson about being the better person, it's important to acknowledge that sometimes the only reward you get for that is actually being the better person....more
**spoiler alert** I really didn't like the message sent by this book. I read many books on immigration to my students. One of the themes I want them t**spoiler alert** I really didn't like the message sent by this book. I read many books on immigration to my students. One of the themes I want them to understand is that life in America can be hard. And life is hard for Francisco, the main character of this story. He has few friends, is part of a school that favors English immersion and is bullied by the most popular boy in school. In the end, he wins a prize for his picture, which the bully admires. Francisco then gives the picture to the bully and you get the impression that now they are friends. I don't like that the ending is framed so as to seem positive. I can't imagine that the kind of boy who'd beat up someone who is different would really complement Francisco on his artwork and want to be friends. I do find Francisco's relinquishment of his prize work to be realistic, but not as an "olive branch" scenario. ...more
I recently recommended this to someone and was all set to send a link to my review, only to be shocked that I’d never written it up! It’s a great famiI recently recommended this to someone and was all set to send a link to my review, only to be shocked that I’d never written it up! It’s a great family read if you’re in one of the frozen parts of the country right now. Tia Lola will bring plenty of warmth and excitement to your house, just as she brightened snowy Vermont for her niece and nephew. I taught this in my third grade class for years as part of an immigration unit and it was a hit. It was great having a modern option that was really accessible to third graders.
Juanita and Miguel’s parents are getting a divorce. They’ve ended up in rural Vermont with their mother, while their father remains in New York City. Now their Aunt, Tia Lola is coming for a visit. Miguel is not exactly thrilled. Back home, he had lots of friends who looked like him. Here in Vermont people make fun of his last name, Guzman. He just can’t help feeling that he stands out and Tia Lola makes him even more noticeable. As time goes by, Miguel slowly gets used to his new life in no small part, thanks to Tia Lola. The adjustments that Tia Lola makes in her move to America are echoed on a smaller scale by Miguel’s experience moving from a largely Dominican neighborhood in NYC to rural Vermont. The book culminates in a trip to the Dominican Republic, where Miguel gets to meet his extended family and realizes just how much he would lose if Tia Lola doesn’t choose to return home to Vermont with them.
Age Recommendation: Grades 3-5. As the content on this is very clean, this would also be a good choice for younger readers who are looking for books with a greater difficulty level. Alvarez has peppered the book with Spanish phrases but translates them or makes their meaning clear by context. This is a great reading experience for kids to have as it prepares them for more difficult works that rely on context alone for foreign language inclusion. Alvarez also helps younger readers by not leaving things unsaid. When A friend says that Miguel will have no trouble making the team because he’s Dominican and baseball comes naturally to Dominicans, Miguel’s father points out to Miguel that the friend is stereotyping and Miguel will make the team with hard work. When children read independently, it can help when authors spell out exactly what is and isn’t acceptable rather than rely on the children to infer it all....more