School Library Journal
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Gr 2-4-Clara Lee has a terrible nightmare in which her grandfather dies. It terrifies her until her grandfather explains that in Korea, when someone dreams about death, it means a new beginning and good luck. Great things begin to happen to her. She can climb the rope in P.E., her friend gives her gingersnaps, and someone has hidden a candy necklace in her desk. All of the good fortune makes her feel confident enough to give a speech to win Little Miss Apple Pie and the Apple Blossom Festival. Because of her Korean heritage, however, some children make her feel as though she is not American enough to win the title. In the end, though, Clara Lee proves that she is "American as apple pie." She deals with some bullying, her friend Max who wants to be her boyfriend, and her annoying little sister. Young readers will enjoy Clara Lee's hopeful demeanor and funny experiences. They will also learn about Korean culture. Clara Lee thinks, speaks, and acts just like the third grader she is in this charming early chapter book. Black-and-white drawings, some full page and some spot art, feature the child, her dilemmas, and her successes. Fans of Clementine will enjoy this endearing character and will eagerly await a follow-up story.-Kris Hickey, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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The candid Korean-American narrator of Han's (Shug) warm novel is preoccupied with luck. After her Korean grandfather interprets her scary dream as good luck, eight-year-old Clara Lee has a charmed day. She snags the best seat on the bus, scales the rope in gym class, and finds a candy necklace in her desk. But Clara Lee's luck expires the following day, when she has an upsetting encounter with a rival for the title of Little Miss Apple Pie at the town's annual fall festival (her competitor boasts that her family is "as American as apple pie") and contemplates dropping her bid for the title. Clara Lee's ruminations meander, though believably so, and her rapport with her grandfather anchors the story (he explains that her dual heritage doesn't "make you less than anybody else. It makes you more"). The funniest interludes are her credible interactions with her younger sister; Clara Lee's memorable descriptions, such as the "limp green bean kind of hug" she gives her grandfather when she's feeling down, will endear her to readers. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In the tradition of Judy Moody and Clementine comes Clara Lee. Clara is a typical third-grader who neatly combines her Korean and American sides. Her warm, supportive family includes a grandfather who is always there for her, especially when she decides to pursue her dream of being Little Miss Apple Pie, riding in the float in her town's apple festival. In a plot that will resonate with kids, Clara is scared when she dreams her grandfather dies, but Grandfather tells her that in Korean tradition that means good luck is coming. And sure enough, Clara's luck does take a turn for the better, with a newfound ability in gym class, a surprise present in her desk, and the courage (almost) to write the speech that could be her ticket to the apple festival. But luck has a habit of changing too, and when things aren't going quite as well, Clara wonders if she should give up her dream. A realistic group of characters, both adults and children, and true-to-life situations will make this illustrated chapter book a favorite.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist