From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–Ruby Lu takes her role as Smile Buddy to her deaf cousin, Flying Duck, so seriously that her work suffers, dooming the second grader to a vacation marred by summer school and a repeat of last year's swimming lessons. She is also dealing with the ups and downs of her relationship with her sometimes-best-friend, Emma. In the first two chapters, Ruby Lu's feelings about her cousin's arrival from China fluctuate from loving to disliking to accepting. Simple sentence structure, clear but varied word choice, and attention-grabbing transitions create a smooth chapter book that is suitable for early and reluctant readers. Black-and-white cartoon drawings add emotion, characterization, and humor, showing, for example, the exaggerated water-safety gear that the feuding Ruby Lu and Emma wear in the waist-deep pool before learning to swim. Pleased with accomplishing all 7 goals on her 12-step summer plan, Ruby Lu realizes too late that she has forgotten her summer reading, leaving readers anticipating another book fresh with third-grade misadventures. With exuberant impulsivity yet earnest introspection, Ruby Lu invites readers into a contemporary world that honors differences while ultimately celebrating universal moments of childhood–friendship, school, and self-realization.–Julie R. Ranelli, Kent Island Branch Library, Stevensville, MD
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Gr. 2-4. In this sequel to Ruby Lu, Brave and True
(2004), Ruby Lu achieves her life's dream: to be a school "smile buddy." Assigned to help Flying Duck, her deaf cousin from China, acclimate to second grade, Ruby Lu takes her responsibility seriously. Unfortunately, she shirks her own duties as student, and both she and her cousin are assigned summer school for remedial work. During the course of the year, Spunky Ruby Lu also experiences the trauma of a letter home pinned to her shirt, scary swimming lessons, and the acquisition of reading glasses. Although the situations are age appropriate, some of the vocabulary and the similes ("thick as Russian novels") will fly over the heads of the book's intended audience, a few of whom may also find the length of the book a bit daunting. Even so, there's plenty of appealing detail about Ruby Lu's family life, and Look's portrayal of how immigration can strain a household is nicely handled, as are Ruby's humorous yet sincere endeavors to communicate with and help her cousin. Cindy DobrezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved