Monday, May 15, 2006

Lisa Yee Doubleheader

I wavered between the two of these for awhile. Which one, which one, should I blog? I loved them both, for different reasons. Then . . . DUH . . . I realized I could blog them both! So here goes.

Book: Millicent Min, Girl Genius
Author: Lisa Yee
Published: 2003

High-schooler Millicent Min has never been off the honor roll. She’s been on Leno and Jeopardy. She knows Latin.

And, oh yeah. She’s eleven years old.

Millie’s looking forward to a great summer (even if only one person signed her yearbook), filled with the literature class she’s taking at the nearby university and hanging out with her fabulous grandma, Mimi. But then her evil parents sign her up for volleyball (eek!) and offer her as a tutor to annoying family friend Stanford Wong (ugh!). Millie’s sure this summer is going to suck. Then she meets Emily. Emily thinks she’s funny. Emily thinks she’s cool. And most of all, Emily thinks she’s a normal girl. And Millie will do anything to let her keep on thinking that.

I loved Millie from the first page. She’s utterly brilliant and charmingly clueless. Her literal-mindedness and sheer bafflement when confronted with unwritten rules remind me very much of Owl, the main character of Patrice Kindl’s Owl in Love. While the comedy is very broad in the first part, mostly pitting Millie against interpersonal subtleties that she doesn’t understand, she rounds out nicely when she meets Emily and ventures into the new discipline of getting, keeping, and being a friend.

Book: Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time
Author: Lisa Yee
Published: 2005

Stanford Wong has just committed The Cardinal Sin in the Wong family. He’s flunked English. His perfectionist dad doesn’t care that Stanford’s the star of the basketball team and one of the most popular guys in school. All he can see is that big red “F” on his son’s report card.

Before you can say “free throw contest,” Stanford’s out of basketball camp and into (ack!!) summer school. As if that weren’t bad enough, he’s getting tutored by that annoying Millicent Min, one of those Chinese geniuses who ruins everything for normal guys like him. He’s got to get to September without killing Millie, without letting any of the guys know that he flunked, and somehow getting the attention of Millie’s cute friend Emily. Good luck!

Stanford’s story is a little more serious than Millie’s, involving as it does subplots about his troubled relationship with his dad and the removal of his beloved grandma to a nursing home. To me, this was unexpected because Stanford comes across as the King of the Clueless Doofuses (Doofi?) in Millie’s book, but not unwelcome. This isn’t a sequel, at least not chronologically speaking, since it takes place in the same time frame as Millicent Min, Girl Genius.

NOTE: Fans of these two books will be delighted to know that Yee is writing a book about Emily, So Totally Emily Ebers. No news on whether it will take place during the same summer as Millie and Stanford’s books, or sometime afterward. Here’s hoping it’s the former, because I feel like there’s a story in Emily’s summer.


Lisa Yee said...

Hey, thanks for the post(s) about Millie and Stanford!!!

And yes, Emily's story completes the trilogy of the same summer -- from her POV. It also solves the mystery of what happens to Emily when she's not speaking to Stanford or Millicent for a couple weeks. I think you might be surprised!

Kelly said...

I loved Stanford too and want to go back and read Millicent :)