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Stargazing
2019
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Chinese-American student Christine is devastated when her artistic best friend, Moon, falls dangerously ill amid revelations that she has been having visions about celestial beings telling her she does not really belong on Earth. Simultaneous. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

Stargazing is a heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel in the spirit of Real Friends and El Deafo, from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang.

A 2019 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids Selection
One of FORBES Best Graphic Novels of 2019
One of NPR's Best Books of 2019
Booklist 2019 Editors' Choice

Moon is everything Christine isn't. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.

But after Moon moves in next door, these unlikely friends are soon best friends, sharing their favorite music videos and painting their toenails when Christine's strict parents aren't around. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she has visions, sometimes, of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn't where she really belongs.

Moon's visions have an all-too-earthly root, however, and soon Christine's best friend is in the hospital, fighting for her life. Can Christine be the friend Moon needs, now, when the sky is falling?

Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

Jen Wang is a cartoonist, author and illustrator living in Los Angeles. She is the author of The Prince and the Dressmaker, Koko Be Good, and co-author of the New York Times Bestselling graphic novel In Real Life with Cory Doctorow. Her work has also appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, The Believer, Hazlitt, Slate, and McSweeney’s. She has also written for the Adventure Time and Lumberjanes comic series. She is the co-founder and organizer of the annual festival Comics Arts Los Angeles. - (McMillan Palgrave)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* The author-artist behind the award-winning Prince and the Dressmaker (2018) turns to middle grade in this exceptional friendship story. Initially, Christine isn't so sure about Moon and her mother, who just moved into the extra unit at Christine's family's house. Moon is loud, artistic, and confident, and she doesn't live under the same kind of rules as Christine does in her own Chinese American family. But despite these differences, they're soon spending nearly all their time together. Then trouble arises: Christine feels pressure from her baba to spend more time on her schoolwork than with her new friend, and Moon's popularity with their classmates starts to make Christine feel jealous. But when Moon's artistic thinking turns out to be more than just freewheeling creativity, Christine realizes how important Moon is to her. Wang masterfully communicates the majority of these emotional turns with marvelously expressive faces and body language, rendered in just a few careful brushstrokes. Pien's warm colors add great dimension to Wang's figures, which are refreshingly varied in terms of body shape and size, and Moon and Christine's lively doodles and drawings add playful insight into their characters. Wang tells a story that will ring true to just about any middle-schooler who's dealt with shifting friendships, but her additional insights into navigating differences within the Chinese American community will be a balm to readers in similar situations. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

In Wang’s (The Prince and the Dressmaker, rev. 3/18) middle-grade graphic novel, Christine follows the rules and tries to live up to her strict Chinese-immigrant parents’ expectations. When a new girlâ€"unconventional, self-confident, uninhibited Moonâ€"and her single mom move into Christine’s family’s in-law apartment, life gets more interesting: Christine learns some dance moves for the school talent show, lets Moon paint her toenails (her parents disapprove of nail polish), and tries new foods. Cracks appear in the girls’ close friendshipâ€"especially when Moon and another classmate become friends, causing a jealous Christine to act like not a good friendâ€"until a medical catastrophe befalls Moon. Family and friendship dynamics are portrayed honestly and realistically (Christine standing up to her father: “You want everyone to be perfect! Especially me!”), but the focus of the story is kept tightly on the two main characters. Panels in a variety of shapes and sizes and a judicious use of white space pace the graphic novel effectively. A natural for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer L. Holm, and Victoria Jamieson. Martha V. Parravano January/February 2020 p.98 Copyright 2020 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Friendships can be complicated—sometimes in the best way possible. Following The Prince and the Dressmaker (2018), Wang takes bits of inspiration from her own life in her new graphic novel. Christine is a Chinese American girl living in an Asian suburb who's focused on her music and grade school work. Change comes when her parents offer the in-law apartment her grandpa used to live in to a struggling Chinese American mother and child from church, encouraging Christine to befriend Moon, the daughter. The only thing is, they are complete opposites. Moon is vegetarian, rumored not afraid to use her fists, does not attend Chinese class, and certainly is "not Asian" according to Christine's standards. Despite all that, the two become fast friends, stretching each other's interests with K-pop, art, and the like. Moon later shares a deep secret with Christine: She receives visions from celestial beings that tell her she belongs with them. Trouble soon follows, with struggles with jealousy, social expectations, and devastating medical news for Moon. Wang is a master storyteller, knowing when to quietly place panels between each moment to sharpen the emotional impact or to fill it with life. It is so very rare and refreshing to see diversity within the Asian American community authentically portrayed; Wang allows each character complete ownership of their identity, freeing their truths and, in the process, allowing readers to do the same. A shining gem of a book. (author's note) (Graphic novel. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

This contemporary graphic novel from Wang (The Prince and the Dressmaker) thrums with the quiet dramas of friendship and family, and showcases the diversity of the Chinese-American experience. When single mother YuWen Lin and her brash daughter Moon move into the Hongs' extra unit, Christine Hong isn't sure what to make of the new girl, a Buddhist vegetarian who loves to dance to K-pop, settles conflicts with her fists, and even confides that she belongs among the stars. Despite initially dismissing Moon as "not Asian," Christine swiftly discovers a best friend in the girl, who expands her horizons beyond violin, Chinese lessons, American pop, and her more traditional Chinese household. When calamity hurtles into their lives, Christine must scrutinize her conflicted feelings about navigating tensions friendly and familial. Wang's art is as expressive and fluid as ever, ripe with playful detail—from a Jeremy Lin simulacrum named Joseph Chu to generation-bridging references such as Sailor Moon and Pokémon—and the muted color palette, contributed by colorist Lark Pien, casts the book in a nostalgic glow. Plumbing the depths of Wang's childhood for inspiration, this rich, heart-filled narrative will resonate with any reader who has ever felt different within their community. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–6—With her surreal drawings, her penchant for bright nail polish, her lax study habits, and her inability to speak Chinese, Moon Li is nothing like the other kids in her Chinese American community. And she couldn't be more different from perfectionist Christine Hong. But when Christine's parents rent a property to Moon and her mother, who are having trouble making ends meet, it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Free-spirited Moon fascinates Christine. However, when Moon tells Christine that she has visions of celestial beings who will one day take her with them to the skies, where she'll finally fit in, Christine realizes that her new pal's confidence masks pain. And when Moon starts to connect with other classmates, Christine's own insecurities threaten their bond. Relying on a muted palette and careful linework, Eisner Award nominee Wang has crafted an understated, poignant tale of the joy and turmoil of budding friendship. She artfully laces her narrative with questions about identity as Christine and Moon quietly wonder about what it means to belong to a community. Though Wang doesn't provide pat answers, her characters do manage to carve out a place for themselves. VERDICT With this spot-on glimpse into the emotional landscape of tweens, Wang joins the ranks of middle grade masters Shannon Hale, Raina Telgemeier, and Cece Bell.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

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