cover image Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

Jenny Han, illus. by Julia Kuo, Little, Brown, $14.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-316-07038-6

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.)