Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

Published by Roaring Brook Press

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Summary:  When Cilla Lee-Jenkins was five years old, a woman in the grocery store asked, “What are you, exactly?”  Cilla, unaware that the woman was referring to her Chinese-American heritage responded, “I am a future author extraordinaire.”  Now in second grade, she is well on her way, recording the story of her life as she waits for the arrival of her new baby sister.  Flashbacks to her younger years are interspersed with present-day tales, as Cilla explores friends, school, and the Chinese and Caucasian sides of her family who do not always get along.  Cilla’s not at all sure that she wants to be a big sister; she doesn’t have much choice about it, though, and when baby Gwendolyn arrives, Cilla can’t help but feel excited.  Not only is the baby somewhat cute and cuddly, but she helps unite the four grandparents in a way that gives Cilla hope for a closer extended family.  Book #2, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic, was published simultaneously.  Includes a glossary, mostly of literary terms that Cilla uses while writing her book.  272 pages; grades 3-5.

Pros:  A promising start to a new series about a girl who loves both sides of her family and is struggling to understand her own identity.  Cilla is smart and funny, and readers ready to move on from Junie B. Jones and Clementine will enjoy getting to know her.

Cons:  Cilla is in second grade, which would seem to make this a book for second and third grade readers, but at 272 pages, it may be daunting for many of them.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.


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