The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Today Biblio Links welcomes middle grade author Wendy Wan Long Shang!

Our school was lucky enough to have Wendy come and visit last summer to lead some writing workshops, and her book doesn’t stay on our shelves long (we’ve got several copies). I teach in a very culturally diverse school, and I’m always eager to hand our students books that reflect their multicultural backgrounds. Many of our families have grandparents and other extended family living with them, and those kids immediately connect with THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU. Although this book first caught my attention because of its multicultural appeal, it has tons of heart that all kinds of kids will enjoy. Lucy’s story is about dealing with bullies, navigating two cultures, and pursuing her dream of basketball stardom.
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Here’s a summary of the story from Indie Bound:
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In this humorous and heartfelt debut about a split cultural identity, nothing goes according to plan for sixth-grader Lucy Wu.
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Lucy Wu, aspiring basketball star and interior designer, is on the verge of having the best year of her life. She’s ready to rule the school as a sixth grader and take over the bedroom she has always shared with her sister. In an instant, though, her plans are shattered when she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother’s sister, is coming to visit for several months — and is staying in Lucy’s room. Lucy’s vision of a perfect year begins to crumble, and in its place come an unwelcome roommate, foiled birthday plans, and Chinese school with the awful Talent Chang.
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Wendy was kind enough to stop by and talk about how LUCY can be used in the classroom.
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Biblio Links:A student walks into my library and I think, That kid needs a copy of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. Who is this child?

Wendy Shang: I think I wrote LUCY in part because I needed a story like this one.  When I was growing up, it was very rare for me to find a modern Chinese-American character in books or popular culture.  (Hence my undying love for Judy Blume and her Tracy Wu character, the best friend of Jill, in BLUBBER.)

There is so much more diversity in today’s children’s literature scene, thank goodness, but I’d like to think that LUCY is perfect for a kid who feels that everyone else’s family is so much more supportive, fair and well, mainstream, than his or her own.  I hope that kids who read LUCY realize that their own families can be amazing sources of strength and inspiration.

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Wendy Shang: I would love to see LUCY used in a discussion of how characters change and grow over the course of a book.  Having just completed a series of writing workshops with 4th, 5th and 6th graders, I think that’s a challenging thing to get kids to think about, though it’s so essential to storytelling.  It would be great to hear the teacher ask, “How does Lucy’s outlook change from the beginning of the book to the end of the book?”

Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Wendy Shang: They can go to wendyshang.com, where they can learn about my childhood and my (slight) gummi bear obsession.

Biblio Links: And who doesn’t like gummy bears?? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Wendy!
Click here to read the glowing reviews and awards bestowed upon THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU.For teachers and librarians, Wendy’s website has discussion questions and activities for readers. Check out Wendy’s advice on how kids can find their writing voice in this Scholastic’s Instructor magazine article.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: January 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0545162159

Number of Pages: 320

Ages: 8 and up

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2 responses to “The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

  1. I have recently read this and will feature it soon on my blog too! Wendy, thank you for your input. The idea of discussing Lucy’s change and growth is such an integral part of your book. I think it’s one of the things I enjoyed most about it.

  2. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Thanks for stopping by, Barbara! I agree about Lucy’s change being one of the most satisfying aspects of the book. I love being able to hand this to kids who are dealing with bullying or Third Culture Kid syndrome…this book is truly a gem.

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