A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some insights into Asian American culture, especially Chinese and Taiwanese American. Some beliefs of Buddhism explained. Effects of a kind of brain tumor explained. An author's note at the end explains some of the author's real-life experiences the book is based on, and talks about her mixed feelings being part of a close community but also wanting to be her own, unique person.
You can't change the past, but you can learn from your mistakes and try to do better in the future. Being part of a supportive, caring community is important, but don't be afraid to be your own unique self, even if some parts of you are different from others -- they're what make you, you. Children make up a dance routine to a fictional song with lyrics that glorify a "queen-bee" attitude.
Positive Role Models
A tight-knit Asian American community has a wide variety of people, personalities, beliefs, and cultural and racial backgrounds all getting along, including a school with a diverse student body. Community members help one another through difficult times. Christine's tight-knit family emphasizes doing what's right and learning from your mistakes. Moon and her mother model a close relationship and how having different beliefs and values doesn't affect people's ability to be friends. Christine is serious and studious, and when she makes a mistake she learns from it and apologizes. Moon is more freewheeling but at first can't control her anger. She realizes she shouldn't hurt others and sees a counselor about it. Moon also handles her medical scare and its aftermath with grace and humor.
Violence & Scariness
Two incidents show a kid knocking another kid down and the illustrations imply the aggressor punches the victim in the face, once knocking a tooth out of one of the victims. A medical scare means an important character has to have brain surgery; people are worried, upset, and scared, but there's a safe resolution.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stargazing is a graphic novel about two elementary-school girls, Christine and Moon, who become unlikely friends given that they're so different. Twice Moon knocks another kid down and the illustrations imply she punches their faces without showing the actual punch; she knocks one kid's tooth out. Later she apologizes to one of her victims and sees a counselor about her anger. There's also some scariness, worry, and sadness when a character has to have brain surgery, but there's a safe resolution. Lots of positive messages about doing what's right, learning from mistakes, and supporting one another through difficult times. Also lots of positive role models for Asian Americans that can inspire thought about how to be your unique self, and what exactly being "Asian" is, anyway.
Is It Any Good?
This is a sweet, lively, and engaging graphic novel about friendship and fitting in. Stargazing is also a refreshing glimpse into a tight-knit, Asian American community that shows a wide variety of people, types, lifestyles, and beliefs all getting along and supporting one another in tough times. Big kids and tweens will relate to Christine as she struggles with both wanting to fit in and to be her own person, and with what it means to be a friend. Author-illustrator Jen Wang brings warmth, grace, and plenty of humor that'll keep even reluctant readers engaged in this heartwarming story.
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.