Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword
Peasprout and her little brother Cricket are new to the city of Pearl and its famous Academy. They may be poorer than all the other students, and they may be the first students from the country of Shin allowed to attend, but Peasprout, for one, is not about to let that intimidate her. Peasprout, a champion of wu liu, the martial art performed on ice skates, is ready to prove herself against all the Pearlian skaters. However, when the pearl structures of the Academy are vandalized, Suki (the snooty queen bee) and her gaggle of friends are ready to accuse Peasprout and her brother of being saboteurs from Shin.
Peasprout soon realizes that while she and Cricket may have been sent as Goodwill Ambassadors to Pearl, there is no real goodwill between the two nations. As she begins to unravel the mystery of the vandalism, she also must begin to pay attention to who her real friends are, and what her priorities ought to be.
Henry Lien’s debut novel delivers all the joys of a classic new-kid-at-school story-Peasprout learns her strengths, finds her true friends, fights her despicable nemesis, and makes terrible decisions in the pursuit of justice and protection for her beloved little brother. Peasprout is a hilariously cocky and smart-alecky narrator, given to exclaiming sentences like “Ten thousand years of stomach gas” when things go wrong. Wu liu may be an invented martial art, but Lien’s descriptions of fantastically beautiful complicated moves and spins will doubtless inspire many young readers to wish it were real. The narrative plunges the reader into a complex political world without much introduction, but the fraught history between Shin and Pearl becomes more and more clear to the reader throughout the course of the book, as it becomes more comprehensible to Peasprout herself. Nancy Wu’s narration of the audio book appropriately communicates Peasprout’s lively tone and snarky asides.
Naomi Lesley ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.