Measuring Up – written by Lily LaMotte, illustrated by Ann Xu

 Measuring Up – written by Lily LaMotte, illustrated by Ann Xu, Harper Alley, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 9780062973870, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre: Realistic Fiction (Graphic Novel)

What did you like about the book? Cici’s family has just made a huge move from Taiwan to Seattle, leaving Cici with two even bigger tasks: making friends and trying not to miss her A-má (Grandmother) too much.  She quickly makes a few friends at school, but Cici isn’t satisfied seeing her grandmother virtually and a plane ticket is simply too expensive.  Cici stumbles upon the solution: a cooking competition! She can earn the money to bring A-má for a visit while doing something she loves (and maybe even making another friend?).  But Cici soon finds her two worlds colliding and just hopes she can find a way to make everything work.

Cici’s experiences in her new home are mixed.  She meets a few bullies but also makes new friends.  She has lots of support but she also is the victim of microaggressions.  She’s excited to be learning so much about American culture but her own culture is constantly misunderstood by others.  These little things add up, but it seems Cici is stronger than she ever gives herself credit for as she works to bring her positive experiences to the forefront so she can focus on achieving her goals. Readers get plenty of glimpses into Cici’s thoughts through thought bubbles and narration boxes, showing how she longs to fit in, remain true to her roots, make her parents happy,  and pursue her passion, leaving many instances where readers can connect with her. By creating a plot that has both ups and downs, LaMotte brought to life a believable character who isn’t defined by any one thing and grows as the story does.

Xu’s illustrations complement the writing in multiple ways.  Much of the book uses bright colors for the characters and setting, matching the overall upbeat tone of the work.  The many different dishes in both the cooking competition and at Cici’s home, make their way to the page as a visual buffet, focusing heavily on colors and shape.

LaMotte and Xu work together to bring a delicious and heartfelt story to the page.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This graphic novel is a great read for those who have loved Smile, the Babysitter’s Club, and any other realistic fiction featuring kids discovering themselves.

Who should buy this book? A first purchase for all collections with a J graphic novel collection.

Where would you shelve it ? J Graphic Novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not necessarily. Reading the flap is enough to give you the info for a good RA session to get this into the hands of eager readers.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of reviewNovember 30, 2020    

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