Sunday, October 03, 2021

Room to Dream (Front Desk #3)

Yang, Kelly. Room to Dream (Front Desk #3)
September 21st 2021 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Mia Tang and her family are finally doing well enough with their Calivista motel that they are able to travel to China to visit family. Hank also decides to come along. It's been five years, and Mia is glad that her teachers are okay with her taking a month off school, as long as she keeps up with her work. Lupe and her family will be running the motel, and there is some tension with her best friend, who is taking high school classes and is too busy to run the front desk with Mia. There is also tension with Jason, who wants to be a little more than friends. These things are simmering in her mind as Mia reconnects with her cousin Shen, grandparents, and even her old school crossing guard! Things have changed a lot in the neighborhood, and her Aunt Juli wants to move her grandparents from their old fashioned neighborhood where they are comfortable and have a lot of friends, to a new luxury apartment like the one that they live in. Mia does have some struggles with going back; she has trouble with the outdoor toilet, isn't as good as the language as she was, and sometimes feels that she doesn't fit in with people in China any better than she fits in with people in the US. There are plenty of adventures to be had in six weeks, though, and she helps Hank run a hamburger stand to help out a local vendor, is approached to write a column for a children's newspaper because her grandfather shows her work to the publisher, and is allowed to wander around the neighborhood with her cousin. It's good to be with family and sad to leave, but there's plenty going on back in Anaheim. Two competing hotels have been bought by a large corporation, and the Calivista is once again in trouble. Other things are changing in her neighborhood, and favorite restaurants and shops are also going out of business. Lupe is still struggling to keep up with school demands, and things are awkward with Jason, who is being pressured by his parents to give up his Asian fusion style of cooking and stick with traditional French cuisine. Mia has found the power of the press, so turns her attention to the new hotel conglomerate. Will she be able to unearth something that could save the family business?
Strengths: Mia is an engaging character and it has been interesting to watch her work and grow. Many of my students whose parents have immigrated to the US go back to visit family, so this is interesting not only for the details of what daily life is like (Shen has a very demanding school, there are local food vendors who sell from their bicycles), but what emotions are involved in going "home" and visiting family. A good portion of this book also takes place in Anaheim, advocating for the hotel, dealing with school, and navigating friendships. It's good to see that Lupe and Jason are still around, even if their roles in Mia's life change. I feel that there is at least one more book about Mia's life that we need!
Weaknesses: It was a little hard to believe that Mia got so much coverage in the news, but younger readers won't think twice about this. Also, Mia's literary career is based off Ms. Yang's actual one, which is phenomenal!
What I really think: This series is popular in my library (Front Desk is a Battle of the Books title), and I will definitely have students waiting for this one when it arrives!

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I loved the first book but hadn't got round to the second so this is a good reminder - and fortunately today is one of my Substitute Children's Librarian afternoons so I won't forget.