Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything

Reading children’s books really is my style. I love that I can sit down and within an hour or two be finished with a chapter book. Granted, the chapter book has ginormous font and pictures—but I still feel accomplished.

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything loses little of the first book’s charm. Ruby still does delightful things—like try to fry an egg, hotdog, and pot sticker on a hot slide at her school playground—and gets herself into one mishap or another (she hides school letters from her parents and brings home a stray dog).

Lenore Look also continues to acknowledge and appreciate her adult reader. She winks at her older audience with snarky details—like comparing Ruby’s book reports to Russian novels—and includes some adult subtext. Ruby’s aunt and uncle, recent immigrants from China, spend the entire book unsuccessfully trying to find work in the United States. Like most children, Ruby has little understanding of the adult world that surrounds her.

Reading about Ruby reminds me of when I was a child. I only have vague memories (I seriously have early-onset dementia), but I remember walking to school, taking swimming lessons, and spending a summer voluntarily taking math tests (don't ask me how I ended up doing that, and I won't admit that I actually enjoyed it).

Despite my fond memories and Look’s respect for her adult reader, I just realized (okay, I had to do some research) that 40 of the last 50 books I’ve read have been for children or young adults. Oh my. It is time I bit into some juicy, complicated adult fare.

Dostoyevsky, here I come.

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