Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Marvelous Middle Grade Monday -- The Great Wall of Lucy Wu -- and a bold takeover!

Today on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (hosted by the inimitable Shannon Whitney Messenger), I'm reviewing --

Hi!  I'm Joanne's brain aneurysm and I've commandeered this post to remind you that it's Valentine's Day and that means you should do something for those you love and take care of your own health!  Last year, Joanne gave her brain an entire post to talk about brain aneurysm awareness.  You should go read it because, ahem, I have a starring role.  Here's my picture, at the top of the basilar artery.   (Yes, I am shaped like a heart.  Sigh.)

This year, I got nada.   Zip.

She was just going to talk about some book.  Hmph.  So I had to take matters into my own hands, er, nodes.

What's the most important thing you can do to prevent aneurysm ruptures, strokes and heart attacks? 

Check your blood pressure.  

Yep.  It's that simple.  See, a normal blood pressure is about 120/70.  Joanne may not want you to know this, but when she was admitted to the ER in 2005 with the worst headache of her life, her BP was 214/140.  Yikes!  That was high.

 (*wrestles keyboard away*)  


What do you think you're doing? (*groans*)  You had your post last year! Get away from there!



Oh, I am SO sorry about that, everyone.   Gosh.  Please excuse that rude interruption.  Now, as I was saying, today on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I want to talk about THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Scholastic, January 2011, ages 8 to 12).

Lucy loves basketball, her family and her life.  She's about to start sixth grade, where she and her class will finally rule the school.  She has a genius older brother named Kenny.  She has a best friend, Madison.  She has a tiny crush on Harrison Miller.  Best of all, she's about to get her own room because her older sister Regina is going off to college.

Life couldn't be better.

Until her parents inform her that Yi Po, her Great-Aunt from China, is coming to stay with them, and sharing Lucy's room.  In a fit of anger, Lucy builds the Great Wall, by pushing her furniture around to make a barrier between herself and Yi Po. 

Even worse, her parents tell her she's going to Chinese School on Saturdays, so she'll have to give up basketball.

This being a MG book, things have a way of working out.  Basketball practice gets moved up a couple of hours, so she's able to do both.  But how will she ever get along with Yi Po, who doesn't speak English and is embarrassingly old-fashioned?  And how will she deal with Sloane Connors, the snobbiest girl in school, who starts a campaign against Lucy when both of them are vying for Sixth Grade basketball team coach?  And will she ever be able to talk to Harrison without feeling tongue-tied?

This is a lovely book for middle graders who like contemporary girl stories.  What's especially refreshing is the intact family.  Two parents, both still alive.  No divorce.  There's a lot of realistic give-and-take among the family members.  The only thing I found slightly unrealistic was that Regina comes home from college only one time, and only stays for a few hours, saying, "Where would I sleep?"   

The best thing about the story is the voice. Lucy tells the story and she comes across as a normal sixth grader.  She's very funny.  She learns a great deal about herself and her culture, and the author integrates the information seamlessly, without ever being didactic.  Lucy's character growth comes across beautifully. You find yourself rooting for her, hoping she'll win the basketball game, defy the snobby girl, and learn how to handle Chinese School and Yi Po. 

Hope you enjoyed that.  NOW will you go check your blood pressure?

Not you again!  What do you think you're doing?  


Go back inside where you belong!  *groans*  YOU'RE the one who's raising my blood pressure!

Okay! Relax!  I'm outta here!


  1. A very important announcement. I did check mine last year and as a result miss salt tremendously. Mine was high even though I run and eat a largely vegetarian diet, so you never know! And since your advice is so good, I'll read Lucy Wu as well!

  2. Sounds like a great book, and a wonderful message from your brain aneurysm!
    Quick question- what are the best ways to reduce one's high blood pressure?
    I see salt from Ms Yingling's comment... anything else?

  3. Great review. I'll have to check it out. cheers.

  4. Just had my checked. My blood pressure used to be so low, it used to scare nurses when they saw it :)

  5. Thanks, Ms. Yingling! Sorry you had to do away with salt, but you're doing the right thing for your health. Have you tried no-salt salt to replace the taste? I've gone so long without added salt, I don't miss it. And now salty things taste nasty to me.

    Thanks, Katharine! Reducing stress is as important as cutting back on salt. Meditating, reading, whatever it takes. But the main thing is to get your BP checked regularly. Your doctor might want to put you on meds if it's too high. I was on Toprol for a year, until I started to get lightheaded!

    Corey, thanks, and I know what you're talking about. I used to have very low BP and would get lightheaded frequently. But as I aged, it obviously went up, and I didn't know it! Now it's mid-range.


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