cover image Girl Giant and the Monkey King

Girl Giant and the Monkey King

Van Hoang, illus. by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-24041-5

Ever since moving from California to Georgia with her mother, 11-year-old Thom Ngho has felt out of place. She’s painfully aware of her Vietnamese ethnicity at her nearly all-white school, and she’s also hiding barely controlled superhuman strength. When she accidentally frees the legendary Monkey King from his prison, the trickster god takes Thom into his confidence, encouraging her to embrace her power through training. Instead, Thom makes a deal: she’ll help the Monkey King retrieve his magical cudgel if he’ll take her strength in return. The task requires her to sneak into the heavens without getting stuck there for eternity, and to face off against a host of celestial beings, including a dragon who claims the Monkey King is up to no good. In this heartwarming #OwnVoices debut, Hoang captures the confusion and frustration of a girl caught between multiple worlds, uncomfortable with her own identity. As Thom copes with bullies at school and an overbearing mother at home, she tries to distance herself from her family’s cultural identity until it becomes impossible to ignore. This entertaining blend of the mundane and fantastical is packed with emotion and sure to strike a chord with readers—Thom’s desire for acceptance and normality is universally relatable, and her resilience makes her an ideal, if reluctant, hero. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. [em]Author’s agent: Mary C. Moore, Kimberley Cameron & Assoc. (Oct.) [/em]