A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lenore Look's Ruby Lu series stars an 8-year-old Chinese-American girl and emphasizes overcoming fear of the unknown. For Ruby, this means facing her dad's unexpected long-term unemployment, summer school, swim lessons that terrify her, and disagreements with friends. These aren't easy issues, but the series presents them in the straightforward way kids often approach complex situations. Ruby tries to navigate the cultural tug-of-war between her day-to-day life with a diverse group of friends on 20th Avenue South and the life her grandparents had in China, a task made harder when her deaf cousin, Flying Duck, immigrates right into Ruby's bedroom. A great choice for families looking for books featuring diverse characters.
What's the story?
In the RUBY LU series, spirited and fabulous 8-year-old Ruby's life is turned upside down when her cousin, Flying Duck, emigrates from China to live with her. Ruby loves the idea of having a new friend, but when Flying Duck's family is there, Ruby's family stops speaking English at home. And, since Flying Duck is deaf, Ruby has to try even harder to help her fit in with the group of friends on 20th Avenue South, at the swim lessons Ruby already hates, and at school. Then there's Ruby's little brother, Oscar, whom she loves -- except when he's getting into her stuff or telling her secrets. But he's a great passenger when she decides to drive the family car to Chinese school early one Saturday morning ...
Is it any good?
The message throughout this series -- always try to be a good person and do the right thing, even when it's hard -- is rock solid. And it's reinforced with silly adventures, tough circumstances, and poignant moments. Ruby's situations are relatable -- she's terrified of swim lessons, sometimes picks fights with her friends because she's upset about something else, and wants to do her best but doesn't always know how. Ruby's multicultural neighborhood and immigrant family bring a refreshing perspective that's often missing in children's books.
However, the writing in the Ruby Lu series might not grab reluctant readers, especially those who don't read the series installments in order. The later books don't describe the characters very well, so the premise could be confusing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about immigration and multigenerational families. When Flying Duck's family moves in with Ruby Lu's family, what does everyone do to help the new situation to work? What would you want to do if you were Ruby?
Have you ever been nervous in new situations? What can you do to stop being nervous?
Have you been in a situation where it was hard to do the right thing? How did you decide what to do?
- Author: Lenore Look
- Illustrators: Stef Choi, Anne Wilsdorf
- Genre: For Beginning Readers
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum
- Publication date: March 1, 2004
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 10
- Number of pages: 98
- Available on: Paperback, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love Asian-American characters and immigrant stories
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.