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Annotation: Mia's Chinese immigrant parents operate a rundown hotel for the skinflint owner while Mia manages the front desk. Can Mia make it through the fifth grade, keep her job, hide her family's secrets, and realize her dream to become a writer?
Catalog Number: #160414
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 286 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-338-15779-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1158-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-338-15779-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1158-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017042552
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Ten-year-old Mia, an immigrant from China, takes on front desk duties at the motel where her parents are managers. The family's grand dream of a free, prosperous life seems farther away than ever when a series of nightmarish events strikes. Mia's gradual understanding of racism and prejudice in 1990s America, and subsequent activism, are at the heart of this triumphant tale. Readers will admire Mia's audacity and creativity.
Publishers Weekly
Yang draws effectively on her own childhood in this lively debut, which offers a candid portrait of one Chinese-American immigrant experience through the eyes of a gutsy, empathetic 10-year-old. In 1993, when Mia Tang-s parents become managers of a California motel, she envisions bright times ahead: the motel has a pool, and Disneyland is just down the road. But the mean-spirited motel owner bans her from the pool and cheats her parents out of money they deserve, keeping Disneyland far out of reach. While her parents work tirelessly, Mia takes charge of the front desk-and much more. Believing that -sometimes, you have to... be creative to get what you want,- and flouting her mother-s repeated assertion that Mia-s English will never be as proficient as native-born Americans-, she writes letters-creatively forged-to aid others, including an African-American victimized by racial profiling and a Chinese immigrant abused by his boss. Mia-s story is one of indefatigable hope and of triumph over injustice, and her voice is genuine and inspiring. Ages 8-12. (May)

Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Through the story of fifth-grader Mia Tang, readers experience the courage, hard work, and dreams of a young Chinese immigrant. A small room behind the office of the Calivista Motel is home for Mia and her parents. Hired by the rich, coal-hearted Mr. Yao, the family works bone-numbing hours cleaning rooms, fixing problems, and managing the front desk. Troubles check in from every direction: at home, where her mom belittles her love of writing; at school, where bullies and lies surround her; and especially at the motel, where the family battles financial ruin. Yet along the seemingly endless roller coaster of poverty, hope appears in small places. Debut author Yang weaves in autobiographical content while creating a feisty and empowered heroine. The supporting characters are rich in voice and context, with multiple villains and friends that achingly reveal life in America in the 1990s for persons of color and those living in poverty. Heavy themes, including extortion, fraud, and racism, are balanced with the naïve dreams and determination of a 10-year-old. The power of Mia's newfound skill in English pushes her to fight for her community, which has lovingly become her adopted family in this new land. With bittersweet information on Chinese immigration to America added in an author's note, this book captures many important themes to explore individually or in the classroom. Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*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 's flat out racist 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.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 64,171
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 196541 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.7 / points:15.0 / quiz:Q73314
Lexile: 640L
Guided Reading Level: T

Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!

* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

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