Thursday, June 14, 2018

The House That Lou Built

29752051Respicio, Mae. The House That Lou Built
June 12th 2018 by Random House Kids/Wendy Lamb Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Lou lives with her mother and grandmother in San Francisco. Her father died before she was born, and her grandfather passed away a few years ago, but she has a large, supportive extended family and many friends. Her mother is training to be a registered nurse and is struggling financially. She's looking for jobs, and favoring one she is offered in Washington state, because the cost of living is much cheaper. Lou does not want to leave the area, especially since her father's family left her a small plot of land, and she dreams of constructing her own tiny house on it, so that she and her mother can have their own space. She even enlists her friends and her shop teacher, Mr. Keller (who is also a family friend) to help her get materials and construct it. The problem is that she doesn't ask her mother's permission, and gets in trouble for traveling so far from home to work on it. There are lots of activities and get-togethers for her large Filipino family, and Lou is desperate to do anything to stay with them. She hopes that the house will be enough for her mother to reconsider, or at the very least, the award Mr. Keller nominates her for that she actually wins.
Strengths: Books where kids have skills or talents that they use to Do Something are always popular in my library, especially when they are upbeat and have some moments of humor. Lou's love of building is admirable, and a much more integral part of her personality than Ellie Engineer, which seemed a bit forced. Bonus points to the author for mentioning how rare shop programs are-- my district hasn't had any at the middle school level since 2003. I especially liked that she got her friends interested and involved. Fear of relocation is a huge thing for 7th graders, so this will make the book even more appealing. There were lots of good details about Filipino culture, but that was not the main focus of the book. Great cover, and overall fantastic debut novel.
Weaknesses: Lou engages in a fair amount of lying and deception. I hadn't noticed how many characters in middle grade novels lie and sneak around until someone mentioned that they needed books that didn't include these things!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and I see it being a popular title.

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