Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang –NOT RECOMMENDED

Wang, Gabrielle The Garden of Empress Cassia, 112 pgs. Kane Miller, 2011 . $4.99. (Language-G, Violence-G; Sexual Content-G.)
Mimi is a Chinese-Australian and she is having trouble reconciling that, and getting teased at school doesn’t help. She has very traditional parents that run an Chinese medicine shop. When her father forbids her from taking an art class, the art teacher gives Mimi a set of magical pastels. When she creates sidewalk art, people are drawn to it in droves, the magic of the Garden of Empress Cassia seems to create healing in those people who need it. When a classmate figures out what it going on, Mimi is going to need to face her fears if she wants to keep the magic from turning evil.
While I liked the Chinese cultural elements, this book was not a great read. First of all, Mimi’s problems are all solved for her through magic, which is a bit too convenient for my liking. This was a peeve for me in another book, see my review here. Her voice is also too young for the intended reader age group, so students will no doubt find it jarring as well. I thought she was like a 6 or 7 years old, until she was going on a lunch date with a boy from school. The way the Chinese legend plays out into real life is confusing as well, and I don’t think students will grasp it the way the author intended to convey it.
Elementary –NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

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