- Girl Giant and the Monkey King by Van Hoang
Hoang, Van Girl Giant and the Monkey King; illus. by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien. Roaring Brook, 2020 [368p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781250240415 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781250240422 $9.99 Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4-7
Thom's new Georgia middle school is a disappointment: the soccer girls are mean, and Thom, who was an excellent player back in California, struggles now that her already prodigious strength has been augmenting lately. Her mother seems to know more about this development, but in what Thom considers typical Vietnamese mother fashion, she cuts off all attempts to converse about it. When Thom accidentally frees the Monkey King from a gourd in which he was entrapped at a local temple, she's forced to choose sides between the Jade Emperor and his ever so attractive envoy on Earth, Kha, and the Monkey King, whose reputation as a trickster doesn't always jibe with his potential as a true friend. A girl with superhuman strength must have one heckuva origin story, so discovering that her father hails from the heavenly pantheon makes sense to Thom and readers. It's plausible that Thom wants desperately to lose her superpower, but readers will be pleased that she doesn't get her wish and that a second entry in this new series is forthcoming. [End Page 87] With Quang and Lien's appealing illustrations, this should be an easy sell to the Rick Riordan set.