Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!
by Linda Sue Park
Book Jacket Summary
Julia Song and her friend Patrick would love to win a blue ribbon, maybe even two, at the state fair. They’ve always done projects together, and they work well as a team. This time, though, they’re having trouble coming up with just the right plan. Then Julia’s mother offers a suggestion: They can raise silkworms, as she did when she was a girl in Korea.
Patrick thinks it’s a great idea. Of course there are obstacles—for example, where will they get mulberry leaves, the only thing silkworms eat?—but nothing they can’t handle.
Julia isn’t so sure. The club where kids do their projects is all about traditional American stuff, and raising silkworms just doesn’t fit in. Moreover, the author, Ms. Park, seems determined to make Julia’s life as complicated as possible, no matter how hard Julia tries to talk her out of it.
In her first novel with a contemporary setting, Linda Sue Park delivers a funny, lively story that illuminates both the process of writing a novel and the meaning of growing up American.
Another multicultural book for class but this is one that I wish I had read sooner! Julia Song and Patrick are neighbors and best friends. They want to come up with the best project for their Wiggle Club show. The WGGL or Work-Grow-Give-Live! Club is like 4-H and they want to be in the Husbandry Section that takes care of animals. When Julia's mom suggests silkworms as an animal to raise Julia thinks that it is to Korean and not American enough.
Little brother Kenny annoys Julia throughout the book and is always looking for ways to antagonize her. He often places Kimchi in her rice- Julia hates Kimchi and not just because of the taste. It reminds her that she is different from the other American children. However, Patrick loves it and it makes them stronger friends because of it.
I noticed that I was riveted to the author and character exchanges that happened in between the chapters of the book. It was an extra look into the character and the feelings she has to explore within herself. Julia would question and pester Park about why she chose to write the different directions the book took. Julia questioned everything from why did you create my little brother to how did you know that a character was black. The inclusion of her mother’s “perfect face” and how she views African Americans gave the book a ring of truth because no matter how we like to try to quell it we all have our prejudices based on past events. Julia explores this in her life and does not have the same experiences that her mother had. It is something to think about as the book progresses and I like that it was never resolved. Not everything gets resolved in neat little bows in real life and sometime a story thread just needs to hang. The exchanges help Julia take a tough look at herself and essentially Park must look into why she created such a powerful character. I really liked these exchanges because there are so many times I wonder why an author included something in a novel and this was a great look into Park’s writing process. It is not something that I would like to see in every book I read but it gave this book an extra edge that I had never seen before.