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Book Review Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look

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In this utterly charming sequel to Ruby Lu, Brave and True, Ruby’s life gets really exciting. Ruby’s cousin Flying Duck has just arrived from China with her parents and not only is Ruby’s family speaking Chinese in the home for the benefit of the new immigrants, but Flying Duck is deaf and Ruby is learning Chinese Sign Language. Ruby achieves her dream of becoming a Smile Buddy in her second grade class room and she gets to take Flying Duck around and help her with her homework.

There are challenges too. Ruby’s not learning Chinese Sign Language as fast as she’d like. The language in the house has switched from English to Chinese and everyone uses chopsticks all the time now. Ruby’s sometimes best friend Emma is angry with her and then there’s the challenge of the summer swimming pool and swimming lessons.

The book is peppy, fast-paced, upbeat and fun. No special allowances are made for Flying Duck because she’s deaf. It’s just dealt with in a matter of fact and casual way. One of Ruby’s duties in school is to inform people that being deaf isn’t a handicap, Flying Duck is completely normal – she just can’t hear. Ruby Lu also gets to join Flying Duck in summer school where she can now learn ASL or American Sign Language right along with her cousin. The story deals with big time issues of immigration, families living together, unemployment, language barriers and acclimation to a new culture and country with a happy and normal tone. I loved it.

The fun little illustrations scattered throughout the book’s pages are equally fun and wonderful. They give a great sense of Ruby and her friend’s life. Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything is highly recommended for children just beginning chapter books.

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