RUBY LU, BRAVE AND TRUE
By Lenore Look, Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2004)
Available in: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review three books in the Ruby Lu series.
Bright as reflective tape.
Ruby Lu, Brave and True charms with ease. She’s a girl who immediately invites newly independent readers into her world—slugs, sweaters and all. She’s gutsy and genuine and kid-on-the-corner recognizable. Rather than a turbulent run of action, Ruby’s story is more plum trees, sibling rivalry/love and the frustrations and joys of everyday life.
There are two things I like best about Ruby Lu. First, her interests are so very visual and normal: a baby brother, a new neighbor, foggy mornings, magic shows and cousins. And second, a major component is her Chinese American culture, woven into the story with subtle elegance. Much as author Look does with her other chapter book series, Alvin Ho, Ruby Lu eases the reader into the Asian American experience. Through foods, traditions, the bother of Chinese school on Saturdays, a tight-knit family dynamic and a neat little Chinese American glossary at the back, we don’t get told about the reality of Ruby’s life, we live it with her.
Written in third person, there were moments I wished to be in Ruby’s head more directly. But this is perhaps a personal preference. With many chapter books written in first person, perhaps it is more the jolting difference in voice that makes this stand out.
Originally illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, some later formats and versions carry illustrations by Stef Choi. I personally prefer Wilsdorf’s more loose, energetic work as it perfectly captures Ruby’s free spirit. But Choi’s drawings reflect a cartoonish, mass market-style that children will no doubt like for the color and bold ambiance.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….