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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Debut MG Novel Funny and Entertaining

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Yumi Chung's Korean immigrant parents expect a lot of her—intensive studying, perfect grades, admission to an Ivy League institution, and the pursuit of an ambitious career (her older sister is in medical school).  Eleven-year-old Yumi couldn't care less about school.  In fact, she kind of hates the fancy prep academy her parents make her attend.  Her big dream?  Becoming the next great stand-up comic.  To her family, comedy is a silly hobby, a waste of time.  To Yumi, it's a way to express herself and connect with people in a way she can't otherwise.  

When Yumi happens upon a comedy camp for kids taught by her favorite YouTube comic, she can't help wandering in.  She's instantly mistaken for an absent camper.  Knowing her parents would never let her join the camp for real, Yumi assumes the missing girl's identity.  Yumi's thrilled to be learning from her idol, but maintaining her lie and keeping her activities a secret from her parents is stressing her out big time.  When the inevitable happens, Yumi must decide how much she's willing to risk to make her dream come true.  

A debut middle-grade novel by Jessica Kim, Stand Up, Yumi Chung! tells a fun, upbeat story that's entertaining and humorous.  The set-up is a little cliché with its demanding Asian-American parents and restaurant setting, but the stand-up comedy angle is one I haven't encountered before in a children's book.  Yumi is funny and likable, which makes her an easy-to-root-for heroine.  She and her friends act a lot older than 11, with more freedom and ambition than kids typically have at that age.  This made the story feel unauthentic, making me think this novel would have worked a little better as a YA book.  Still, Stand Up, Yumi Chung! is an enjoyable, empowering romp with lots of heart.  I didn't absolutely love it, but I definitely liked it.

(Readalikes:  A hundred titles should be coming to mind, but I'm drawing a blank.  Any ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  Another fine find

1 comment:

  1. I think this sounds appealing for middle grade students. Did it feel like she is a stereotype of Korean students.


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