Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review: Paris Pan Takes the Dare

Paris Pan Takes the Dare by Cynthea Liu. Upper Elementary, Middle School. Putnam Juvenile, June 2009. Copy purchased.

(This is a 2009 Cybils nominee and this review reflects only my personal opinion of the book, not necessarily the opinion of the panel!)

Paris Pan knows her new Oklahoma town is small, but she's not expecting her seventh grade classroom to consist of ten kids. Total.

Since she's used to being the new kid, she's used to being the outcast and she's determined not to let that happen this time around. So when queen bee Mayo tells Paris that she has to take The Dare, Paris knows she has no choice. It's either take the dare or resign herself to a live of loserdom.

But the more Paris finds out about the dare, the less she wants to do it. Can Paris find the strength to stand up to Mayo and do the right thing?

This is a solid middle grade read with a bit of a mystery to it and I think kids that enjoy authors like Mary Downing Hahn will find a lot to like in this book. It's not a ghost story in the strictest sense, but as Paris and her friends investigate the supposed murder of a girl on the Pans's new property, the story has some of the same elements as those supernatural thrillers.

It's also a story of being the new girl, figuring out the social situation and dealing with family troubles. I loved that the Pans are Asian and that's not the main focus of the book. Paris deals with the same problems that many seventh grade girls face every day. She's the youngest kid, so her older brother ignores her and her older sister yells at her every time Paris wants to use the phone. At her school, kids are immediately branded and there are clear outcasts, even in a class of only ten kids.

I'll definitely be looking for more from Cynthea Liu!

Read more reviews at Shelf Elf and Charlotte's Library, and read an interview with Cynthea at Cynsations.