Parents' Guide to

Measuring Up

By John Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Taiwanese girl drives fast-paced, tasty cooking drama.

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Cici's journey in this quick and sweet graphic novel is straightforward but satisfying. Measuring Up features a strong girl lead in Taiwanese Cici, and her parents, while falling into the stereotype of the Asian "Tiger Parents," clearly work hard to give Cici every opportunity. The story doesn't serve up too much of a challenge, but there's something pleasant about its structure as it bounces from cooking competition to school to friends to home life and back around again. Each new cooking test features new ingredients, new ways of cooking, and new dishes. As Cici gets closer to her goals, the stakes ramp up a bit, with her deciding to lie about a B+ grade on a math test, which leads to her father canceling her involvement in the cooking competition. But the motivation for why Cici is so desperate to accomplish her goals remains unquestioned throughout, and this grounds Cici and her story in the importance and warmth of family, good friends, and good food.

This graphic novel might really speak to immigrant and/or Asian American kids dealing with the kinds of daily social and school-related challenges that Cici has to face. Like worrying over having friends or anyone over to her home, not being able to do "American things" like sleepovers, or preferring to eat boiled dumplings, pickled cucumbers, and oil rice over "American food" like cheese puffs, butter, bread, or spaghetti. Cici ends up exploring different but similar culinary cultures and traditions, as well as discovering herself.

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