Anna Mei series by Carol A. Grund

This review is from: Anna Mei, Cartoon Girl 
If I were not a mother, I’d never believe little girls think the way Anna Mei does, imagining that eveyone notices she’s “different” and assuming a classmate’s teasing is an insult rather than a compliment, and so on. Having just found out some of the incredible concerns my own daughter has, I’m forced to accept that girls really are this self-conscious and irrational. Carol A. Grund does a marvelous job of entering the point of view of an 11-year-old girl adopted from China and moving to a new school where she’s apparently the only adopted Asian kid. It’s painful for mothers like me to realize that our daughters suffer so much anxiety over appearances. I cannot say enough to commend Grund for bringing this issue to young readers, especially when lesser issues tend to dominate the market. Zombies and vampires just aren’t on my maternal radar, sorry.Anna Mei spends a lot of time trying to fit in with the popular girls at school, at the expense of hurting less popular students. The story is filled with real concerns, not contrived situations and melodrama. I hope this series will become popular with girls this age. I don’t imagine the Anna Mei storyline has the kind of action boys like to read about, but if I were a teacher, I’d definitely keep this one in my classroom library.

This review is from: Anna Mei, Escape Artist 
I was happy to find another story about Anna Mei and her funny friend Danny. It’s rare to find children’s books where both parents are alive and the protagonist actually respects and listens to her parents. Danny gets along famously with Anna Mei’s dad. Their jokes and camaraderie make these books a fun read.In this, Book 2 of a series, Danny is very mysterious about not opening the door to his own home to let Anna Mei do what he does at her house – meet the family, get to know them, enjoy their company. Anna Mei, being a girl, lets various awful scenarios take form in her head. Even I was expecting to learn Danny has a cruel and abusive father, or something, or a dead mother under the floor boards.

But real life is more interesting than that. True horror can terrorize a child in a much simpler form. The truth comes out, and it’s not what I expected. It turns out boys can be as irrational as girls, sometimes, in the things they hide. Maybe “irrational” is the wrong word, but the issue is that our kids don’t think like adults. They choose things without seeing the whole picture, without seeing how what feels best for them may feel pretty lousy for someone else.

Once again, authentic emotions and true-to-life childhood concerns make this book a worthwhile choice for young readers.

No surprise that one of the Anna Mei novels just won an award! Any of the three would be worthy of the Catholic Arts and Letters Award, announced in August 2013. The first one is my favorite, but BLESSING IN DISGUISE delivers a new character. Without even trying, he manages to torture our protagonist in ways that only adolescent girls can be tortured.

Kai Hao Chen is one of those annoyingly brilliant Asians who’ve seen the world, learned so much, and impressed every adult in their path. Anna Mei goes out of her way to avoid this new kid at school, forgetting how it felt when she was the new kid at this same school.

It’s gratifying for this 51-year-old reader to see a girl humbled by the truth behind her rash judgments. The irrational thinking of adolescents sets my teeth on edge, so I especially admire Carol A. Grund’s patience, compassion and understanding in writing Anna Mei. She deserves an award for that alone.

No exploding helicopters, no zombies, no murder mysteries to solve, and no IQ-insulting Scooby Doo villains to keep me turning pages in the Anna Mei series, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s so refreshing to find literature based on real people with every-day problems.

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About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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