Not Your All-American Girl
Not Your All-American Girl

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Annotation: A multicultural story full of heart and hilarity about what it means to be all-American. Lauren and her best friend, Tar... more
Catalog Number: #238807
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 256
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-338-03776-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8618-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-338-03776-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8618-8
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
The friendship of sixth-graders Lauren and Tara ("The Royal We") hits a snag when Tara is cast as the lead in the school play, leaving Lauren relegated to the ensemble because the director tells Lauren (half-Chinese, half-Jewish) that she doesn't look "All American." Tara relishes the spotlight and seems oblivious to her white privilege, while Lauren chafes at the many microaggressions aimed at her, at one point literally silencing her voice in the chorus. Set in 1984 85, this companion to This Is Just a Test (2017) is told from Lauren's perspective, with older brother David and their two grandmothers taking prominent roles in the narrative. While focusing on serious themes (racism and prejudice), the overall tone remains light, and several scenes (including Lauren's disastrous attempt to lighten her black hair, resulting in orange stripes) will elicit laughter. By the end Tara realizes her mistakes, Lauren learns to stand up for herself, and the friendship survives, stronger than before. References to Walkmans and vintage TV shows remind readers that this is a period piece.
Kirkus Reviews
Music, friendship, and the definition of “American” are humorously and realistically explored in this companion to Rosenberg and Shang’s This Is Just a Test (2017).Sixth grader Lauren and her best friend, Tara, audition for the school musical. A natural-born singer, Lauren has a stunning audition, but the director casts Lauren in the ensemble and blue-eyed, freckle-faced, milky-skinned Tara as the “all-American” lead, implying that Jewish, biracial (Chinese/white) Lauren and her straight, black hair, brown eyes, and tan skin are the opposite. Lauren tries to be supportive of her best friend, but her jealousy and discontent grow as she struggles to process overt and subtle racism at school, in the community, and in media. Lauren’s mostly white friends don’t understand why she’s upset, and even Tara makes off-handedly racist comments. Luckily, Lauren has just discovered a lifeline: the country music of Patsy Cline (even as a case of mistaken spelling leads her to believe “Patsy Klein” is a Jewish country singer). Whether familiar with or new to the Horowitz family, readers will be drawn into Lauren’s first-person narration, filled with witty observations and droll character development. Set in Virginia in 1984, the book weaves accessible and engaging historical markers into the plot. Illustrations of buttons with funny sayings, Lauren’s trademark, punctuate the text, adding a humorous counterpoint. An unnecessary subplot about a theatrical ghost feels tacked on but is easily overlooked. With so many references to singers, musical groups, and songs, readers may wish for a playlist!A nearly pitch-perfect middle school exploration of race and friendship. (Fiction. 10-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 37 When Lauren Horowitz tries out for her middle school's musical, she thinks she might have a shot at the lead. She loves to sing, and even her classmates tell her that her audition is great. But when the drama teacher tells her she doesn't look "all-American" because she's Chinese and Jewish, Lauren begins to doubt whether her dream of being a singer is possible. While balancing her place in the ensemble, her growing button-making business, and her family's hopes and expectations, Lauren starts to question her place in her suburban community in 1980s Tennessee. The text is interspersed with illustrations of the buttons Lauren wears and ends with selected pages of the play's program. While many subtle cultural and historical references may be lost on a young reader, Lauren's story is a sensitive and realistic portrayal of a girl who struggles to find her place in a community where very few people look like her. The 1982 murder of Vincent Chin plays a role in the story, and the authors address it in a way that is accessible to an elementary school audience without shying away from the racist motivations of the attack. Though this book is a sequel to 2017's This Is Just a Test, it is a self-contained story, and readers do not need to read the titles in order. VERDICT For fans of Jenn Bigelow's Drum Roll, Please and Ann Hood's She Loves You , this is a funny, tender, quick-moving story of family, friendship, identity, and music. Madison Bishop, Forbes Lib., Northampton, MA
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School Library Journal (6/1/20)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 4-7
"Look at Tara," said Mrs. Tyndall. "When people see her, they won't have a hard time imagining she's an all-American girl from Pleasant Valley. It's our job in the theatre to make it easy for the audience to imagine they are right there with her."She made it sound so reasonable.She said: Tara looks like she's from Pleasant Valley.She meant: You look like you're from someplace else. Someplace that isn't Pleasant Valley. Someplace that isn't even in the United States. Why hadn't I sung the Star-Spangled Banner for my tryout instead?"You'll do a great job in the group numbers. You'll help everyone stay on pitch," said Mrs. Tyndall. "Don't forget, every role is important or it wouldn't be there. Most girls would feel extremely lucky to make the ensemble."I would have felt extremely lucky to be in the ensemble, too. If Mrs. Tyndall hadn't said what she'd said. And if Tara wasn't poised to be the peanut butter. Again."Won't the audience wonder why there's one Chinese-Jewish girl in Pleasant Valley?" I asked, just to show her that I got her point about sticking out. Though there was only one Chinese-Jewish girl at Dwight D. Eisenhower, too."You're Jewish?" said Mrs. Tyndall. "Are you sure?"I wanted to say I wouldn't have spent so much time being bored out of my mind in Hebrew School if I wasn't Jewish, but I decided against it. The Chinese part of me was the part she could see, but the Jewish part of me was always there, too.Mrs. Tyndall made a little sweeping motion with her hand. "Anyway, that's the ensemble. They'll barely notice."Because I was an apple. A French fry. A green bean and macaroni and cheese and corn. I was the side dish. I didn't have reddish brown hair or blue eyes. I had black hair and brown eyes like my mom and a dimply smile like my dad's. Some girls in my grade liked to put their arms against mine and say how tan I was, even at the end of winter. I had thought that was a good thing. Until now.

Excerpted from Not Your All-American Girl by Wendy Wan-Long Shang, Madelyn Rosenberg
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

A multicultural story full of heart and hilarity about what it means to be all-American.

Lauren and her best friend, Tara, have always done absolutely everything together. So when they don't have any classes together in sixth grade, it's disastrous. The solution? Trying out for the school play. Lauren, who loves to sing, wonders if maybe, just maybe, she will be the star instead of Tara this time.

But when the show is cast, Lauren lands in the ensemble, while Tara scores the lead role. Their teacher explains: Lauren just doesn't look the part of the all-American girl. What audience would believe that she, half-Jewish, half-Chinese Lauren, was the everygirl star from Pleasant Valley, USA?

From amidst the ensemble, Lauren tries to support her best friend. But when she can't bring herself to sing anymore, her spot in the play and her friendship are in jeopardy. With the help of a button-making business, the music of Patsy Cline, and her two bickering grandmothers, can Lauren find her voice again?

Acclaimed coauthors Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang return to the 1980s world of Sydney Taylor Honor Book This Is Just a Test with this laugh-out-loud coming-of-age story.


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