From the Publisher
“Ruby is as effervescent and charming as ever.”—Booklist
“Leavening the seriousness of her family’s money worries is Ruby’s Ramona-like talent for getting into trouble. (Young readers will think of Lilly and her purple plastic purse when Ruby’s beloved third-grade teacher Mr. Yu sends home a letter about her bad grades—Ruby draws a picture of him being struck by lightning, then features him in a less-than-flattering haiku.) Ruby and her family, along with cousin Flying Duck and the rest of the 20th Avenue Plum Club, are as comfortably familiar—and entertaining—as ever.” –The Horn Book
“Although the overall tone is lighthearted, Look provides some real insight into the struggles a family faces when its main breadwinner is out of work, and she resists providing an easy resolution. Fans of Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine and Katy Kelly’s Lucy Rose should definitely meet Ruby Lu.” –Kirkus Reviews
“A fun easy chapter book despite the heavier issues.”– School Library Journal
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—In her latest appearance, Ruby is ready to take on third grade. That's when classrooms are in the big kids' hall, students get to join clubs, and everything is written in cursive. Ruby isn't quite comfortable with all of the changes; show-and-tell has disappeared, and she finds herself worried about her dog at home without her. These adjustments prove small once she learns that her dad has lost his job. Her already frugal family needs to make more cost-saving calibrations, and the child finds herself not knowing how to deal with an increasingly depressed, stay-at-home dad and a working mom. Her grades slip and she worries about her parents arguing at night. While experiencing the ups and downs that go along with unemployment, Ruby knows she can count on her friends and family. Choi joins the series, peppering the pages with illustrations of Ruby and her friends to make this a fun easy chapter book despite the heavier issues.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City
The irrepressible Ruby Lu is back and feeling the effects of the recession. A couple of generations after Beverly Cleary broached the subject in Ramona and Her Father (1977), Look allows the economy to affect her latter-day imp. In this installment, Ruby Lu and her cousin Flying Duck, who communicates in Chinese sign language, embark together on the exciting adventure that is the third grade. Things get complicated, though, when Ruby's mother gets a job selling shoes in the mall and turns over the household management to Ruby's recently unemployed father.Astheir once-organized world starts to fall apart, Ruby concocts some interesting schemes to improve the situation, some of which work and some of which turn into hilarious disasters. Although the overall tone is lighthearted, Look provides some real insight into the struggles a family faces when its main breadwinner is out of work, and she resists providing an easy resolution. By the end, it is clear that Ruby's family will survive the crisis but not without making some sacrifices and depending on each other more than ever. Fans of Sara Pennypacker's Clementine and Katy Kelly's Lucy Rose should definitely meet Ruby Lu. (Fiction. 6-10)
Read an Excerpt
The Best Thing About Third Grade
The best thing about third grade was absolutely everything.
“Waffles with berries and extra whipped cream!” Ruby exclaimed. Ruby liked the breakfast.
“Hooray!” exclaimed her cousin Flying Duck in Chinese Sign Language. Both girls wiggled their thumbs, which means “thank you” in CSL.
Ruby’s dad wiggled his thumbs back. Unlike other days when he would rush off to work before anyone else made it downstairs, he was in the kitchen serving his Back-to-School Breakfast Special for the girls. It was a tradition that he had started when Ruby was in kindergarten.
“The key to a good school year is a good breakfast,” said Ruby’s dad, slipping a waffle in front of her.
“And the key to a good meeting with your boss,” added Ruby, giving her dad a wink, and digging right in.
Ruby’s dad winked back. She could tell that he was impressed that she remembered that he had an important meeting with his boss. “Third graders sure know everything!” he said cheerfully.
“And they eat pretty fast too,” said Ruby, gobbling down the last of her waffle.
“Mee too!” said Oscar, stuffing his cheeks. Ruby laughed. He was her baby brother, and he was so silly and hungry all the time.
“Take it easy,” Ruby said to Oscar. “You’re not going to school yet, you’re only going to day care.”
Ruby’s mom, who usually stayed home with Oscar, was out with Flying Duck’s parents, helping them look for work. Flying Duck’s parents, who had recently moved from China, needed to find jobs, and Ruby’s mom, who was good at speaking Cantonese and English, was translating for them. So it was decided that Oscar, who was almost one, would go to day care three mornings a week.
Ruby gave Oscar a kiss on the head. “You’ll have a great time!” she said, leaning carefully away from Oscar’s sticky high chair and even stickier hands.
“Kissssssssss you,” said Oscar, blowing Ruby a kiss.
Flying Duck also gave Oscar a kiss on the head, and Oscar, quick as a Venus flytrap, caught Flying Duck with a whipped-cream hug.
Then Elvis, Ruby’s new dog, jumped up and covered Flying Duck with kisses, licking off the sweet, fluffy cream that Oscar had smeared on her.
“Oh you silly dog,” said Ruby, throwing her arms around Elvis and rubbing her face into his fur. “I’m going to miss you today.”
“Urrrrrr?” said Elvis. He was the best thing that happened to Ruby during the summer. One day he appeared on her doorstep, and by the end of the summer, she had adopted him. And now he was the absolute best thing about third grade. Ruby was looking forward to taking him to dog obedience school for the first time, after school. He was full-grown and had some unusual skills for a dog, such as yoga, riding a bicycle, and balancing plates and balls on his head, but obeying Ruby was not one of them. He had a mind and life of his own. He was always practicing his Down Dog position . . . or his Cobra . . . or his Spider. But he never came when called, or sat or begged or heeled like a normal dog. This was frustrating to Ruby, but she loved him just the same. His best skills, Ruby felt, were the most important ones—giving Ruby a listening ear whenever she needed it, and watching TV with her. He loved TV, especially animal shows, and so did Ruby. Nevertheless, she could hardly wait to train him to do some normal dog tricks.
“Guess where we’re going after school today?” Ruby asked.
Elvis looked at Ruby with round wet eyes.
And Ruby looked at Elvis.
“Owwwwwww,” moaned Elvis sadly. He seemed to say that he was going to miss Ruby terribly until she got home.
“Oh, I wish I could bring him to school with me,” she said, squeezing Elvis.
“You’ll be taking him to dog school soon enough,” said Ruby’s dad.
“Okay,” said Ruby, wiping a tear from her eye.
Ruby threw her arms around her dad and gave him a kiss. “Bye, Daddy,” she said. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Ruby,” he said, giving her a hug.
Then she and Flying Duck hurried out of the house and down 20th Avenue South toward third grade.
© 2011 Lenore Look