I first reviewed PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME for its initial release in 2020. Well, I’m happy to share that it will be released in paperback (yay) on April 13, 2021! The paperback edition will feature a bonus materials, including Tween book club discussion questions, an author Q&A, and a Korean language glossary with pronunciation guide. This edition is perfectly timed to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.
Erin Yun’s appealing debut novel – an imaginative retelling of Great Expectations – strikes just the right notes to appeal to both MG and younger YA readers. Ms. Yun recently wrote about the need to increase diversity in children’s publishing recently. As a child, she simply didn’t see that many middle-grade or young adult books with Korean leads.
When I wrote Pippa Park Raises Her Game, I knew that I wanted the main character to be Korean because I knew a younger version of myself would have appreciated it and because all children deserve to see themselves represented in the literature they read.– Erin Yun, Author Pippa Park Raises Her Game
You can read her entire post on her website www.PippaPark.com. I find the publishing numbers she cited sobering (and yet unsurprising). Fortunately, there seems to be an upward trend in own-voices publishing, and I’m hopeful that more and more Asian authors will see their work published because all children deserve books that have main characters that reflect themselves.
Read on to learn more about Pippa Park Raises Her Game!
Many thanks to Media Masters Publicity for providing me with an advanced copy of the book; all opinions are my own. This post also includes affiliate links.
SYNOPSISPippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun
Published by Fabled Films LLC on February 4, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade
Buy on Amazon
Buy from your local independent bookstore via IndieBound
A CONTEMPORARY REIMAGINING OF GREAT EXPECTATIONS FOR MIDDLE GRADERS!
Life is full of great expectations for Korean American Pippa Park. It seems like everyone, from her family to the other kids at school, has a plan for how her life should look. So when Pippa gets a mysterious basketball scholarship to Lakeview Private, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself by following the "Rules of Cool."
At Lakeview, Pippa juggles old and new friends, an unrequited crush, and the pressure to perform academically and athletically while keeping her past and her family's laundromat a secret from her elite new classmates. But when Pippa begins to receive a string of hateful, anonymous messages via social media, her carefully built persona is threatened.
As things begin to spiral out of control, Pippa discovers the real reason she was admitted to Lakeview and wonders if she can keep her old and new lives separate, or if she should even try.
PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME was a delightful read that will appeal to middle-grade readers and younger YA readers. Author Yun gets her characters just right without caving to stereotype – impulsive, wanting to fit in Pippa; Pippa’s older sister Mina who has taken on a motherly role as their own mother is in Korea; irrepressibly cheery Buddy, Pippa’s best friend. The Royals – the popular crowd Pippa finds herself hanging out with – are not pigeonholed as spoiled mean girls and have their own personalities and differences. That said, along with Pippa, we don’t really know where she stands with them until closer to the end of the book.
Pippa herself is likable, quirky, and real. Yun captures all the emotions that Pippa goes through: the nerves of being someplace new and wanting to fit in (she doesn’t want to be known as a “scholarship kid”), her excitement for playing with the basketball team and holding her own, the apprehension and fear that goes along with trying to maintain an image that doesn’t match her current situation.
The desire to fit in is something that readers of any age can relate to. Pippa finds herself weighing how to balance paying for pizza slices at school and her ice creams with Buddy, and justifying the manicure she splurges on with her new friends to her sister, who works hard in their family laundromat to make ends meet. Does she always make the right decisions? No – but she really wants to, and you’ll find yourself rooting for her to do so.
Throw in complicated family issues on her tutor Elliot’s side to offer some “grass is always greener” type perspective, and online bullying to add some layers of conflict, and you have a story you can sink your teeth into.
I particularly enjoyed reading all the details surrounding her Korean heritage. The dishes prepared for a favorite holiday, the snacks she loved to eat, and traditions they shared were all a delight to read. These details will delight both those children who see their life reflected back, and those who are just discovering more about the Korean culture.
Pippa Park Raises Her Game is an endearing, warmhearted story about a strong female character you’ll want to root for. With wonderful bonus features like discussion questions and a Korean language glossary with pronunciation guide, along with downloadable Tween Book club printables and more at www.PippaPark.com, this book would be a great addition to your home bookshelf or school library.
Three points 🏀🏀🏀 and five stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for this lovely book.