Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan
|Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Full of humour and warmth, this is an engaging read, and it's great to see a story about a British Chinese childhood!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: June 2021|
|Publisher: Piccadilly Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Danny is eleven years old, and what he really, really loves to do is draw. He creates fantastical comics, whilst his best friend Ravi adds the words. Danny's dad, however, wants Danny to concentrate on his maths, and forget about the drawing, because he says nobody can make a living from drawing! At least Danny has his own room, where he can draw in secret and in peace. But then one day his parents tell him they have a surprise for him, and this surprise turns out to be his grandmother who has come over from China to live with them, and who will not only be sharing Danny's bedroom but she will also be sleeping on the top bunk of his bunk bed! Danny is horrified! His Nai Nai (grandmother) speaks no English, and Danny finds himself forced into being her babysitter, and showing her around the town. Poor Danny, stuck on a maths project, frustrated with his bedroom situation, and then he even has a falling out with Ravi...how on earth will things ever get better?!
I really enjoyed this story, mostly because of the developing relationship between Danny and his Nai Nai. It's a story written with a huge amount of heart. At the start, you share Danny's frustration. What eleven year old wants to share a room with a grandparent?! Especially a snoring grandmother! You can see how Danny's parents want the best for him, and their happiness at having Nai Nai come to live with them, but they really aren't listening to the things that Danny is trying to explain. Slowly, we get to know Nai Nai, as Danny gets to know her too, and their relationship grows and changes. And through his developing relationship with Nai Nai, small changes start to take place in his relationship with his parents too.
I loved Nai Nai's confidence, and the friend she makes at the Bingo! And it's really lovely to see how Danny and Nai Nai grow closer, even without Nai Nai being able to speak any English (Danny doesn't speak the dialect of Chinese that she speaks). The story manages to cover a wide range of topics too, looking at everything from friendships and family, to schoolwork, race, and growing up. Maisie Chan writes really well about this working class family. Full of cultural references, it was good to see an example of a British Chinese childhood being depicted in a children's story.
There's a lot of humour through the book, and some wonderful illustrations. The chapters aren't too long, and the language is accessible, so all of these things help make the book engaging and easy to read. I really wanted to know how things were going to turn out for Danny, and of course, for Nai Nai, so I was happy that the book resolves in a satisfying way! A very enjoyable story, I look forward to seeing more from Maisie Chan.
You might also enjoy reading The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q Rauf.
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