Monday, May 28, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

To find out more about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, click here.
Title: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
Author: Jenny Han (link)
Genre: Contemporary Early Reader
Illustrations: Julia Kuo

Pub Date: January 2011

Synopsis: Clara Lee likes her best friends, her grandpa, kimchi, candy necklaces (her signature look!), and the idea of winning the Little Miss Apple Pie contest. Clara Lee doesn't like her mom's fish soup, bad dreams (but Grandpa says they mean good luck!), speaking in public, or when her little sister is being annoying.

One day, after a bad dream, Clara Lee is thrilled to have a whole day of luck. But then, bad luck starts to follow. Will her luck change in time for the Little Miss Apple Pie contest?

First Line:When I woke up that morning and saw the red and gold leaves swirling around my backyard, I just knew it was gonna be my kind of day.

This book lands on the young side of middle grade, more toward chapter book audience. 

Toddlers and Apple Pie Tiaras?: At first I was skeptical when I read that Clara Lee wanted to become Little Miss Apple Pie so she could be a princess and wear a sash and sit on a parade float and wave next to a teen beauty queen. But instead of forcing girly stereotypes, the book actually does a lot of gender-bending. Clara refers to herself as a king, her mother calls her "buddy," and her best guy friend dances ballet. There's nothing wrong with girly books at all, but since some pageant kids are subject to teeth whitening and spray tans, it's nice to see that Clara is king of her own decisions.
Why You'll Love Clara: As you can tell from the synopsis description, Clara Lee is spunky with a capitol 'S.' She's a gal who knows what she likes - and even has a signature look. Along with being a fun and surprising narrator, Clara has a few bratty moments like all kids are wont to do, but she recovers from them with grace by owning up to them. For younger kids especially, this is a fine example of not having to be perfect always - but being honest.

Check out more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday picks at these blogs: 

  • Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog
  • Jennifer Rumberger's blog
  • Joanne Fritz's blog
  • Danika Dinsmore's blog
  • Shannon O'Donnell's blog 
  • Natalie Aguirre's blog
  • Brooke Favero's blog
  • Barbara Watson's blog
  • Anita Laydon Miller's blog
  • Michael G-G's blog
  • Pam Torres's blog
  • Akoss-Nye Louwon's blog
  • Gabrielle Prendergast's blog
  • Kelly Polark's blog 
  • Isaiah J Campbell's blog
  • Kim Aippersbach's blog 
  • Laurisa White Reyes' blog 
  • Andrea Mack's blog


  1. This is one I was looking for last summer when I took part in a reading diverse challenge, but my local library system didn't have a copy and I still have yet to read it. I like the idea of gender-bending.

  2. Sounds great, I love culturally diverse books. I think they are so important for our kids to be exposed to. Thanks for spotlighting this.

  3. She must be Korean. I love kimchi too! :) Oh, and I tagged you on my blog with 11 Questions. You're it!

  4. Never heard of this. Looks like a cute story.

  5. This is at the very youngest end of middle grade. When it was nominated for a Cybils award, we all liked it, but felt it was almost an emergent reader book.Very cute story, though!

  6. I haven't read this one. . . but it's on my list now. It's interesting that it is classified as MG, but in a good way. I like "young" MG books.