When You Wish Upon a Lantern
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that When You Wish Upon a Lantern, by Gloria Chao (American Panda), is a charming tale about Liya and Kai, two Chinese American friends who work together to make their community's wishes come true. Readers will learn about Chinese culture, traditions, folklore, food, and history. A glossary at the back of the book defines the Mandarin words and phrases used throughout the story. Family, friendship, courage, communication, and perseverance are important themes. Liya's grandma passed away six months ago, and the characters are learning how to deal with their grief. Liya's and Kai's familes are in a feud. Kai's older brother bullies him because he's the second-born son and likes to bake. Characters have crushes, flirt, hold hands, kiss, and make out. A father asks his son if he's been masturbating enough. Strong language includes multiple uses and variations of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "jerk," "crap," "goddammit," and "Jesus." A character calls his brother "Poop Son." There are also brief mentions of cigarette smoke and beer.
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What's the Story?
In WHEN YOU WISH UPON A LANTERN, Liya and Kai have been best friends since they were kids, but things have been awkward since Liya vomited on Kai while he was asking her out. It also doesn't help that their families are fighting. When Liya finds out that her family's store is struggling, she decides to continue secretly granting the wishes written on their customers' paper lanterns, a tradition she shared with her grandma, who passed away six months ago. Liya quickly realizes that granting wishes is tough to do on her own, and Kai is the only one she trusts to help her. Liya and Kai begin repairing their relationship as they figure out how to fulfill their community members' wishes. But when their families forbid them from seeing each other, can Liya and Kai find a way to make their wishes find the light?
Is It Any Good?
Gloria Chao's charming tale about culture, community, and first love is a must-read for teens. Her vivid descriptions transport readers to Chicago's vibrant Chinatown, filled with mouthwatering dishes and rich cultural traditions. Liya and Kai are sweet, lovable characters, and while the story mainly revolves around their "will they, won't they" relationship, it's also about grief and finding ways to keep your loved ones' memories alive. Liya and Kai feel lost without each other and even more so without her grandma, who made them feel loved and understood. By fulfilling wishes, they've found a way to honor her grandma's legacy, bring the community together, and celebrate their culture. As When You Wish Upon a Lantern progresses, teens will learn to look for the magic in everyday moments and understand the importance of kindness and communication.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the generational conflict in When You Wish Upon a Lantern. Do your grandparents, parents, or caregivers have values or traditions you think are old-fashioned and have no place in today's world?
Talk about the various kinds of diversity in the novel. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?
How do the characters demonstrate communication? Why is this an important character strength?
Does the romance portrayed seem realistic and relatable? Do YA romance novels help readers sort out their feelings and learn how to communicate, or do they create false expectations about teen relationships?
- Author: Gloria Chao
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Perseverance
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 14, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: February 15, 2023
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