Many kids throughout mankind’s history have thought about running away from home for one reason or another. Sometimes that reason can be that kid is being abused, their family has major financial trouble or even as petty as not getting that one toy. Gloria Whelan has a story like that called Chu Ju’s house.
Chu Ju is just a normal girl living in a tiny village somewhere in China. Her mom is about to give birth and it had better be a boy since not only does China have a law that says people in the country are only allowed two kids (city one,) but boys are more highly valued than girls. It’s a girl and her parents are thinking about selling her off. Chu Ju figures the best thing to do is to run away, have her family try to have a boy again and Chu Ju tries to live her own life.
This was a rather enjoyable story. The main reason is wanting to know how Chu Ju was going to survive in a country where girls with no family are SOLD to sweatshops, prostitution or as wives for foreigners. Sadly, she did kind of have a pretty easy time alone. Granted, she had to work hard, but everyone she meets except for two treated her like family. Call me a realist, but I expect at least one person to get suspicious.
On the other hand, Chu Ju does show that she is a lot smarter than she lets on. She does lie about her skills but learns fast enough to stay with that family. That’s why Chu Ju is an endearing character, she adapts to her situation which is a great lesson to teach kids. Even the ending is a nice lesson and comes across as a realistic scenario.
Of course, some people have accused Whelan of not understanding Chinese laws. Yes, laws are complicated, but this is a book for young readers and you do need to simplify some things so as to not get in the way of the story.
Chu Ju’s House may be simple, but it is heartwarming. Chu Ju is an interesting character as are her adventures and the ending is great. This is well worth reading if you can get past whatever inconsistencies in China’s laws and culture.
I made it no secret that I love young adult literature. It’s a genre that has been put down as easy reading for dumb kids, but many YA books have a lot of literary merits. With that said, Monsters Unleashed by John Kloepfer isn’t one of them.
Freddie is a huge kid but would never harm a fly. That’s one of the main reasons why he is constantly bullied by three of his classmates. To help him out, he draws his bullies as monsters that he and his friend, Manny, plan on using in their movie. One day they find a weird 3D printer in their teacher’s office and decide to use it to create their monsters. Instead, these monsters come to life a wreak havoc on the town. Now it’s up to Freddie to try to stop these monsters even if it means making friends with his bullies.
It’s a nice idea that a kid makes peace with his bullies by making them help him solve a problem. This is something that’s rarely done anywhere and it is a welcome addition. Another welcome addition is that for once the main lead isn’t some shrimp but a huge kid.
Sady, that’s where the positives end. This book reads like a Goosebumps book that forgot what makes Goosebumps books interesting. While, yes, the way the characters trap the monsters is ingenious, the characters themselves aren’t all that interesting. Yes, they do have personalities, the problem is they just aren’t three-dimensional personalities. Hell, Freddie is practically invisible because of how little presence he has despite being a big dude. You forget that he is a big dude.
Now, I’m not saying that this is a horrible book. It does have some neat ideas and it is something young adults would love to read. I’m also not saying to skip it entirely, give a chance and you may like it or think it’s OK like I did. Again, it’s Goosebumps without everything that made Goosebumps what it is. In fact, Goosebumps isn’t even a literary success. It has its problems but it is insanely fun to read. That goes for this book, too.
So if you’re just looking for a YA book to read, this one is fine but its target audience will like it much better than an adult. They will love something like this despite it being mediocre.