|Front desk (Front desk novel)|
Author: Yang, Kelly
Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants--not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class, the other being Mr. Yao's son, Jason.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 196541
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 73314
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/15/18)
School Library Journal (+) (03/01/18)
Booklist (+) (04/15/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/05/18)
The Hornbook (00/07/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2018 Gr 4–6—Mia Tang and her parents expected to work hard when they came to the United States, but they had no idea how difficult things would be. After a year or two struggling to make ends meet, they find themselves managing a motel for a cruel and exploitive owner. The work is exhausting and the problems are many, but the Tangs approach their new responsibility with determination, creativity, and compassion, making friends everywhere and sheltering a trickle of immigrants in worse straits than themselves. Ten-year-old Mia takes over the front desk, and makes it her own, while dreaming of a future as a writer. Based on Yang's own experiences as a new immigrant in the 1980s and 1990s, her novel speaks openly of hardship, poverty, assault, racism, and bullying, but keeps a light, positive tone throughout. Mia herself is an irresistible protagonist, and it is a pleasure to see both her writing and her power grow through a series of letters that she sends to remedy injustices. The hefty and satisfying dose of wish fulfillment that closes the story feels fully earned by the specificity and detailed warmth of Yang's setup. Many young readers will see themselves in Mia and her friends. VERDICT A swiftly moving plot and a winsome protagonist make this a first purchase for any collection, especially where realistic fiction is in demand.—Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2018 *Starred Review* Set in the early 1990s in Anaheim, California, this earnest debut is partially inspired by the author’s childhood. When Mia Tang’s parents find a new job managing the Calivista motel, it seems like the answer to their prayers: free housing and a stable, secure job, neither of which have come easy to the recent Chinese immigrants. Fifth-grader Mia takes pride in working the front desk and becomes fast friends with the weeklies, for whom the motel is a semipermanent residence. But the motel’s owner, Mr. Yao, is beyond mean—he’s flat out racist—so Mia enters a writing contest to win their very own motel. It’s the details that sing in this novel, particularly the small moments that feel like everything when you’re a kid: winning (or not) the beloved classroom object, having your prized possession stolen, or being hurt by a parent’s words. When Mia’s mother says, “You’re a bicycle and the other kids are cars,” meaning Mia’s English will never be as good as a native speaker’s, it’s a crushing and lingering blow, especially for a budding writer. This book will help foster empathy for the immigrant experience for young readers, while for immigrant children, it is a much-needed and validating mirror. Though some of the events toward the end may stretch believability in an otherwise realistic novel, there is plenty to appreciate and admire. Deserving of shelf space in every classroom and library. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.