The Secret of the Jade Bangle
“Engaging and empowering.” —STARRED review, Nonstop Reader
A charming early chapter book series that explores Vietnamese culture and identity through the eyes of the Nguyen siblings, with elements of the supernatural, spirituality, and social justice woven in.
Organized and introspective nine-year-old Anne Nguyen misses her Grandma Nội, a lot. But even though Grandma Nội passed away, it doesn’t mean she’s disappeared.
When Anne and her younger siblings Jacob and Liz are given gifts passed on to them by Grandma, Anne soon realizes that hers—a beautiful jade bangle—has a secret power. One that might just give her the strength to stand up to her ballet teacher, who treats her differently than her white classmates, and embrace her Vietnamese identity through cooking Grandma’s recipes. No matter how difficult things get, Anne learns that the love of her ancestors is always with her.
Following her grandmother's death, a fourth grader isn't sure what her Vietnamese heritage means to her in Trinh's engaging debut. Anne Nguyen doesn't attend Vietnamese school or take sticky rice for lunch like her cousins do, and she's never traveled to Vietnam from her home in Winnipeg. But when Anne receives her beloved Grandma Nô.i's jade bangle, her grandmother's spirit appears, requesting traditional Vietnamese dishes for the family's ancestor-honoring altar. Since Anne's Canadian-born parents never learned to make them, Anne is tasked with learning how. Cooking gives Anne the chance to process the racist treatment she's receiving in her majority-white ballet class, where her new teacher asks where she's "really from" and criticizes her demi-plié, saying "You people are usually very flexible." Learning to make favorite dishes also helps her to feel closer to her departed grandmother and her cultural history; learn about her family's encounters with racism, including racist slurs; and affirm her own identity. An emotionally intelligent, straightforwardly told family story, it's the first installment of a series centered on Anne and her siblings. An author's note concludes; final art not seen by PW. Publishing simultaneously: The Power of the Pearl Earrings. Ages 6–9.