Review of Stargazing

Stargazing
by Jen Wang; illus. by the author; color by Lark Pien
Intermediate    First Second/Roaring Brook    218 pp.
9/19    978-1-250-18387-3    $21.99
Paper ed.  978-1-250-18388-0    $12.99

In Wang’s (The Prince and the Dressmaker, rev. 3/18) middle-grade graphic novel, Christine follows the rules and tries to live up to her strict Chinese-immigrant parents’ expectations. When a new girl — unconventional, self-confident, uninhibited Moon — and her single mom move into Christine’s family’s in-law apartment, life gets more interesting: Christine learns some dance moves for the school talent show, lets Moon paint her toenails (her parents disapprove of nail polish), and tries new foods. Cracks appear in the girls’ close friendship — especially when Moon and another classmate become friends, causing a jealous Christine to act like not a good friend — until a medical catastrophe befalls Moon. Family and friendship dynamics are portrayed honestly and realistically (Christine standing up to her father: “You want everyone to be perfect! Especially me!”), but the focus of the story is kept tightly on the two main characters. Panels in a variety of shapes and sizes and a judicious use of white space pace the graphic novel effectively. A natural for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer L. Holm, and Victoria Jamieson.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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