Ruby Lu, Brave and True
  • Alternative view 1 of Ruby Lu, Brave and True
  • Alternative view 2 of Ruby Lu, Brave and True

Ruby Lu, Brave and True

3.1 7
by Lenore Look, Anne Wilsdorf

View All Available Formats & Editions

Most days the best thing about being Ruby is everything. Like when she's the star of her own backyard magic show. Or when she gives a talk at the school safety assembly on the benefits of reflective tape. Or when she rides the No. 3 bus all the way to Chinatown to visit GungGung and PohPoh.
And then there are the days when it's very hard to be


Most days the best thing about being Ruby is everything. Like when she's the star of her own backyard magic show. Or when she gives a talk at the school safety assembly on the benefits of reflective tape. Or when she rides the No. 3 bus all the way to Chinatown to visit GungGung and PohPoh.
And then there are the days when it's very hard to be Ruby. Like when her mom suggests Chinese school on Saturdays. Or when her little brother, Oscar, spills all of Ruby's best magician secrets. Or when her parents don't think she's old enough to drive!
Come along with Ruby Lu in her chapter-book debut — which even includes a flip book of a magic trick — and share the good and the not-so-good days with an (almost) eight-year-old Asian-American kid.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Look (Henry's First-Moon Birthday) introduces a plucky Chinese-American heroine in this chapter-book series opener. "The best thing about living on 20th Avenue South was everything," states the peppy if occasionally precious narrative, written from the perspective of almost-eight-year-old Ruby Lu. Readers meet Ruby's mother (who takes Chinese fan-dancing lessons), her father (a champion knitter and Scrabble fanatic), her grandparents (who mostly speak Chinese) and her baby brother, Oscar (whom she adores even though he steals her thunder while she's performing a backyard magic show). In mostly diverting episodes, Ruby desperately attempts to teach Oscar to talk after her friend's baby brother begins to speak; she introduces herself as a tree frog on the first day of Chinese school, when a classmate, also named Ruby, fancies herself a gecko; and-in a hopelessly unrealistic frame-climbs behind the wheel of the family car and drives herself and Oscar to school. Look's similes can strike a false note (e.g., when Oscar's antics distract Ruby's magic-show audience, she "felt all her love for him drying up like spilled soda on a hot sidewalk"), yet on the whole the character is vivacious enough to make the audience want to believe in her. A cousin from China moves in with Ruby's family at tale's end, setting the scene for the second installment, and kids who have taken a shine to the likable lass will look forward to her return. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 6-10. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ms. Look writes every chapter as a separate picture book, which leaves the reader smiling without a strong conclusion. Ruby Lu is a wayward heroine with loving friends and family to guide her through the misadventures. They model positive actions without any preaching and provide solutions to 8-year-old problems. Ruby's challenges begin with the birth of her brother, Oscar, who does not quite develop on his big sister's timetable. She has high standards for behavior that are offended when a new friend is rude, but she rises to the occasion and learns a lesson in tolerance. She is also smart enough to drive a car by herself but finds out just because she can do something does not mean she should. Wilsdorf's line drawings grace every chapter and bring Ruby's 20th Avenue world to life. The vocabulary is challenging e.g., Apgar test and mercurochrome, and the book concludes with a glossary and guide to Chinese words. It is a fearless read for students of any heritage. 2004, Atheneum Books/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Ages 6 to 10.
—Tina Dybvik
Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Ruby Lu makes her debut in this funny and charming chapter book. Full of joie de vivre, the eight-year-old loves her family, particularly her baby brother, Oscar; wearing reflective tape; and performing in her own backyard magic show. Plot development is episodic but steady as Ruby musters up her courage to attend Chinese school; she confronts mean Christina from California; and she decides to drive herself to school. (Her parents are frantic when their children and car are missing, but Ruby thinks that her biggest mistake was parking in the principal's spot.) Looming large is the fact that her cousin, Flying Duck, is emigrating from China and Ruby will have to share her bedroom. All is well, however, when Flying Duck gets off the airplane wearing reflective tape. Clever book design includes a playful copyright page and a small flip book of one of Ruby's magic tricks on the lower right-hand corner of each page. "Ruby's Fantastic Glossary and Pronunciation Guide" explains unfamiliar terms related to Chinese culture. Generous font, ample white space, and animated and active illustrations rendered in India ink make this a perfect choice for readers who are looking for alternatives to Barbara Park's "Junie B. Jones" books (Random).-Debbie Stewart, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Welcome Ruby Lu! In what is billed as the first in a series, Ruby Lu bursts onto the scene with Oscar, her beloved baby brother, at her side. Whether she is furling her cape and performing backyard magic tricks or visiting her grandparents, PohPoh and GungGung, Ruby's enthusiasm for life bubbles out of her. She loves her house, her neighborhood, her second-grade teacher and, well, just about everything. When Oscar begins to talk, Ruby learns just how hard being a big sister can be. He reveals the secret of her best magic trick and easily learns the words to the songs at Saturday Chinese school, slowly deflating her ego. Young readers will identify with Ruby's excitement and good intentions, even when she is slowly and carefully driving her brother to Chinese school and parking the family car in the principal's spot. Wilsdorf's airy pencil illustrations joyfully bounce through the text. Hooray for Ruby Lu: she can ably join Hurwitz's Russell and Elisa, McGovern's Julian, and Cleary's Ramona on the shelves of excellent series fiction for new chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 6-10)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Ready-for-Chapters Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Best Thing About 20th Avenue South

The best thing about living on 20th Avenue South was everything.

Ruby liked her house. She had lived there since kindergarten. Tomato slugs lived at the bottom of the front steps. A plum tree lived in the backyard. The kitchen smelled like jook and ice cream.

Ruby liked the rain. It rained often on 20th Avenue South. The rain sprinkled diamonds on spiderwebs and poured silver on the sidewalks. At night the rain was a lullaby of a billion grains of rice falling on the roof.

Ruby liked the sunshine. It was not often sunny on 20th Avenue South, but when it was, all the bottle caps in the street shone like coins. Windows opened. Radios played. Laundry dried. Plums ripened. Mothers took their babies out.

Ruby liked the bus. The No. 3 ran from Chinatown to the Jefferson Golf Course. Ruby's pohpoh and gunggung lived in Chinatown. Ruby lived near the Jefferson Golf Course. The No. 3 bus brought PohPoh to Ruby, or Ruby to PohPoh, whenever GungGung was too busy to drive them, and they saw each other as often as they could.

Ruby liked her school. Kimball Elementary was usually four blocks away. But whenever Ruby got the urge, school was nine blocks away: two more blocks over to the driving range to look for golf balls that had come through the fence, three blocks backtracking to school. Ruby was almost eight and was finally allowed to walk to school by herself. She wore lots of reflective tape — just so her mother wouldn't have to worry, especially on foggy mornings.

"Everyone should wear reflective tape," Ruby liked to say. And she got to say this every year at the school safety assembly.

Ruby liked her new wallet. The librarian gave out a shiny wallet to every child who became a card-carrying member of the Beacon Hill Public Library. It was school-bus yellow and closed with crunchy Velcro. Ruby carried her wallet everywhere. It meant that she was almost ready for a driver's license and credit cards. Ruby could hardly wait.

Ruby especially liked after school. Mr. Tupahotu's magic class began at 3:12 sharp. Ruby was never late. Mr. Tupahotu had been a famous magician before he became a teacher. He turned scarves into butterflies. He floated a beautiful lady in midair. He owned 513 rabbits (not all at once). He appeared on TV. He signed an autograph for Ruby.

The Great Tupahotu was now just a regular guy, but he was not your regular second-grade teacher. He could read a whole Russian novel (without falling asleep) and usually one of Ruby's book reports (without confusing the two). In addition he could tell who threw the paper airplane just by the way it was

folded, and fold a much more impressive one. He knew the difference between a person, place, and thing, except sometimes when it came to Ruby's imaginative writing. And he could write in cursive, even on the blackboard.

In magic class he made everything look so easy. But everything was actually very hard. Ruby could never do any of the tricks the first time around. Or the second. Or sometimes even the 199th. But she was getting better.

She could put a coin through her elbow.

She could cut a string into two pieces and then turn it back into one piece.

She could hypnotize a handkerchief and make it obey.

She could almost make a coin stand up just by blowing on it.

She could make knots disappear...usually.

And she could make flowers appear...sometimes.

Ruby starred in her very own backyard magic show, Ruby's Magic Madness. And neighbors on 20th Avenue South agreed that she was truly amazing.

Ruby liked her neighbors. Wally lived across the street. Before that he'd lived in Hong Kong. Wally was the only child Ruby knew who could speak Cantonese without having gone to Chinese school. He was fluent, Ruby's mother said, which meant that he could speak Chinese all day without running out of words. Ruby was very impressed. Still, she was glad when Wally did not sign up for magic class. With a little help from Ruby, he had signed up for Bonsai Club.

Tiger was Ruby's best friend. He lived two blocks away, but it felt like he lived next door. He was faster than e-mail. "Don't break the speed limit!" his mother always called after him. He was also fast at making friends. With just the right smile, he was always saying hi and having a chat. Ruby didn't make friends so quickly. She liked her old friends best.

"You never know when a new friend might become another best friend," Tiger told Ruby. "Just smile and look them smack in the eye."

But the very best thing about living on 20th Avenue South was Oscar. Oscar was Ruby's baby brother. When he was brand-new, he felt as solid as wrapped tuna from the Pike Place Market and smelled like fresh-baked daan taht. He was more beautiful than Ruby had imagined. She had waited a very long time for him. And when he came home from the hospital, she had nearly forgotten that she had wished for a puppy.

The second very best thing about living on 20th Avenue South was Emma. Emma had the cutest, sweetest little dog. He had a mouthful of pointy teeth and little feet with toenails that went dop-dop-dop wherever he went. His name was Elwyn and he was bilingual. He obeyed commands in Cantonese (thanks to Wally) and in English. He'd graduated summa cum laude from dog obedience school, and so had Emma. Emma was very proud of Elwyn. And Elwyn was happy to be the only dog on 20th Avenue South.

But Emma also had a baby brother. When he was brand-new, he, too, felt like wrapped fish and smelled like something freshly baked. Sam was more beautiful than Emma had imagined. She had waited a very long time for him. And when he arrived, she and Ruby became as close as sisters.

Sam weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces, at birth.

So did Oscar.

Sam scored a 9.5 out of a perfect 10 on his Apgar test.

So did Oscar.

Sam could tell when it was lunchtime.

So could Oscar.

When Sam was only two days old, he smiled at Emma.

"It's just gas," Ruby had explained. "It says here that if babies smile before four weeks old, it's only because of gas."

That's what the baby book said. But Emma didn't believe it. Emma smiled at Sam. And Sam smiled back. Ruby saw it with her very own eyes. She'd had to think fast.

She climbed their plum tree, but Oscar wasn't watching.

Time out.

So she climbed back down.

She took a bathroom break.

When she came back, she tried some jokes.

A feather.

Funny faces.


But all Oscar did was cry and sleep.

Ruby wanted to cry too. Waiting for a stinky baby brother to smile was harder than waiting for morning recess at school.

Finally, Oscar smiled at Ruby, and he was still only two days old.

Before long Sam rolled over.

So did Oscar.

Sam sat up.

So did Oscar.

Sam cut his first tooth.

So did Oscar.

Sam said his first word.

"Da," he said.

Emma beamed.

"Da da da," he said. In case nobody heard, he said it louder, "Da da da!"

Ruby looked at Oscar.

Oscar looked at Ruby.

Oscar really was the cutest little brother on 20th Avenue South. He had headlight eyes, a drippy tongue, and a runny little nose. Ruby liked doing her magic tricks for Oscar, who cooed and drooled and clapped under their plum tree. Ruby's magic show had many fans, but Oscar was the best one of all. When everyone else went home, Oscar was still there. Oscar loved Ruby. And Ruby loved Oscar.

But Oscar was not producing, as Emma had delicately put it.

"Please," Ruby pleaded. "Say something....Anything."

Oscar put all his toes in his mouth.

He blew bubbles through his lips.

He laughed.

To make matters worse, Sam said his second word. And then his third. And his fourth. Soon, he said what sounded like the longest sentence Ruby had ever heard.

"Da dee a ma mi haba bee dee bee bee," he said.

"Daddy and Mommy have a pretty baby," Emma translated triumphantly.

So Ruby tried candy.

And presents.

She promised fireworks.

She tried hypnosis.

Desperate, she asked for advice.

"Sorry," said the lady at the dog obedience school, giving Oscar the once-over in his puppy suit. "He has to be a real puppy."

"Every baby develops at his own rate,"

Mr. Tupahotu gently told Ruby. "You can't hurry nature."

So Ruby tried the library. She borrowed language tapes and videos.

She put Oscar in front of the mirror. She moved his lips. He moved his hips. Ruby was a convincing ventriloquist. And Oscar was ready for his nap.

Ruby was close to tears. Oscar gave Ruby a yawn. And a burp.

But Oscar did not say boo.

That night Ruby dreamed that Oscar was making a speech.

"My fellow babies...," Oscar began.

Millions were transfixed. When Oscar finished, the applause was thunderous and utterly transporting. Ruby clapped loudest of all.

The next morning Ruby ran straight to Oscar's room. But Oscar the Orator was nowhere to be seen. It was just the same old Oscar. And Ruby felt her love for him getting thin around the edges.

Now the worst thing about living on 20th Avenue South was Oscar. Oscar was not talking. If only Oscar would say something — one word — everything would be right again. Rain would fall. Slugs would ooze. Plums would grow. It was all Ruby wanted. It was all she could think of. She wished for it with her cigar box full of old birthday candles and Thanksgiving wishbones. And just before falling asleep, she wished for it upon all the stars in the sky.

Copyright © 2004 by Lenore Look

Meet the Author

Lenore Look is the author of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, an ALA Notable Book; Love As Strong As Ginger, illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Stephen T. Johnson; and Henry's First-Moon Birthday, illustrated by Yumi Heo. She lives in Randolph, New Jersey.

Anne Wilsdorf is the illustrator of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, as well as Alligator Sue by Sharon Arms Doucet. She lives in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Ruby Lu, Brave and True 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SO..... CUTE! This book diserves 5 stars,but since the author didn't bother to add a glossory of the words in chinese
denissedl More than 1 year ago
Ruby Lu, a wonderful little eight year old Chinese American who with all her detail, truly brought me back to when I was a young child. She lives life to the fullest. (I especially love the part of when she gets to ride the bus down to Chinatown with her GungGung and PohPoh). However, not everything is fun and games. She had some tough times too, which made the book a little more realistic. Ruby has a great imagination and loves to perform magic shows in her back yard. She is crazy about her new baby brother, Oscar; her grandparents; and the snacks they serve at Chinese School. She is not so crazy about Christina, the new girl in her class, other people¿s baby brothers, and learning all the new Chinese words and characters. By the end of this short novel, Ruby¿s growth is apparent in many ways, from her friendship with Christina to her obvious pride in newly mastered Chinese skills. Occasional black-and-white illustrations add to the lighthearted tone of a story that includes a screamingly funny scene in which Ruby decides to ¿borrow¿ her parents¿ car and drive herself to school. Ruby Lu is a girl to watch out for. While this book might not really interest older tweens, younger girls will probably always enjoy it. Pretty much anyone can appreciate this fun glimpse into the life of an Asian-American girl. THis is a hilarious book for those beginner-independent readers. The glossary of Chinese (Cantonese/Taishanese) terms that Ruby and her family uses is pretty helpful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not like it well I am 8 years and me and my friends act notning like ruby lu I didn't think it was realistic and I deffinetly do not think it was for my age I think the age group is 4-6 of course at that age your mother could read to you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard great things on this book but after reading, I was not as impressed as I had hoped. It was a cute story and had lots of chinese traditions along with Ruby Lu's own glossary. It would make a nice teaching tool for learning the Chinese culture