Pippa Park Raises Her Game

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Pippa Park Raises Her Game Book Poster Image
Charming middle-grade novel about friendship and identity.

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Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about Korean culture. Bonus content at the back of the book includes discussion questions as well as a glossary and pronunciation guide for the Korean words and phrases.

Positive Messages

Family, friendship, kindness, communication, and integrity are important themes. It's OK to make mistakes. Learn to apologize when you've hurt others. Embrace your roots and be proud of where you come from. True friends will accept you for who you are.

Positive Role Models

Although Pippa tells white lies, she learns to be herself and eventually understands that she shouldn't be ashamed of her family. Mina and Jung-Hwa love Pippa unconditionally and treat her as if she's their own daughter. Jung-Hwa is like a father figure to Pippa and gives her advice on how to handle what's happening at school and with her friends. Billy and Helen are kind and supportive friends and accept Pippa no matter what. Diverse representations include Korean and Korean American characters..


Cyberbullying plays a large part in the story, and at times families argue. Pippa receives mean and anonymous messages online from someone threatening to expose her secrets and lies.


Girls talk about their crushes, dates, and boyfriends.


Name calling includes "stupid," "idiot," "jerk." Also "oh my god."


Brands and pop culture mentions include Gucci, Disney Channel, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, Pride and Prejudice, John Hughes, Range Rover, Acura, Instagram, and more. Pippa buys a (fictional) magazine called Tween Things where she learns the "Rules of Cool."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pippa Park Raises Her Game is a charming middle-grade novel about a Korean American girl named Pippa who's learning how to adjust to life at her new, elite private school. Cyberbullying plays a large part in Pippa's story, and there are a few instances of families arguing. Characters use mild language, including "stupid," "idiot," "jerk," and "oh my god." A glossary and pronunciation guide at the back of the book will help readers learn more about the Korean words and phrases used throughout the story.

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What's the story?

PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME tells the story of a Korean American girl named Pippa Park who's forced to quit playing for her public school's basketball team to focus on her grades. When Pippa unexpectedly receives a basketball scholarship to Lakeview Private, an elite private school, with the requirement that she maintain a 3.0 GPA, she's excited to join the team and reinvent herself according to the "Rules of Cool." After all, she doesn't want anyone to know that she transferred from Lakeview's biggest rival or that her family owns a laundromat. But life at Lakeview is more challenging than Pippa anticipated, especially when she begins receiving mean, anonymous messages online from someone threatening to expose her secrets and lies. Will Pippa be able to juggle basketball, new friendships, and keep her grades up?

Is it any good?

This charming and fast-paced middle-grade novel highlights family, friendship, and identity. Author Erin Yun does a brilliant job incorporating Korean culture and Asian American experiences into the story, and readers will relate to Pippa's struggles adjusting to life at her new school. Her decision to use the "Rules of Cool" to fit in with her new friends and teammates might seem like a good idea, but Pippa eventually realizes that her real friends will accept her for who she is. As Pippa Park Raises Her Game on and off the basketball court, tweens will see the importance of apologizing for their mistakes and appreciate how Pippa learns to embrace her roots and her family's unconditional love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Pippa Park Raises Her Game deals with cyberbullying. How does this issue affect the characters? Have you had any experience with cyberbullying?

  • Talk about the various kinds of diversity in the novel. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?

  • Do you ever feel different or left out? When? Do you think others in your class or school feel that way? What can you do to help them feel included? How have new friends come into your life? How have you helped build new friendships?

  • How do the characters demonstrate communication and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love middle school stories and friendship tales

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