Jenny's 2011 Picks
Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
by Jenny Han, illus. by Julia Kuo
This warm, often funny story about eight-year-old Clara Lee is just right for Ivy and Bean fans. Her hometown of Bramley will soon celebrate its Apple Blossom Festival, and Clara Lee wishes she could be Little Miss Apple Pie and ride on a float in the Festival’s parade. Last year, she was too shy to give the required speech for the entire school. But now that she’s in third grade, she’s determined to try. She has the perfect outfit to wear if she wins: the dress her grandfather bought her on a visit to Korea that makes her feel like “a Korean princess from long ago.” One of the most touching aspects of the novel involves Clara Lee’s close relationship with her Korean grandfather, who lives with them. She confides in him the details of her life and her dreams, on good days and bad ones. She tells Grandpa about her rival for Miss Little Apple Pie, and how the girl bragged that her “great-great-great-uncle was one of Bramley’s founding fathers,” and her family is “as American as apple pie.” Grandpa reassures Clara Lee, “You are all-American Korean American! One hundred percent American, one hundred percent Korean. Doesn’t make you less than anybody else. It makes you more.” Your child will gain an intimate experience of a second-generation household and also witness a third-grader experiencing her first taste of independence.