In this middle grade novel, Maizy Chen’s mother brings her from Los Angeles to Last Chance, Minnesota, to help her grandparents and their Chinese restaurant while Opa, Maizy’s grandfather, recovers from illness.
As Opa teaches Maizy to play poker, he begins telling her the story of their ancestor Lucky Chen and what led him to flee San Francisco in the 1800s and ultimately run the Golden Palace in Last Chance. Lucky’s tale is delivered in installments throughout the book.
Meanwhile, Maizy meets local kids, encountering both fast friends and offensive comments. And when Bud the Bear, a large wooden statue outside the Golden Palace, goes missing, Maizy is determined to figure out who took Bud and why.
Last Chance may be a fictional town, but author Lisa Yee includes fun Minnesota details throughout.
If you read this aloud as a family—it’s a wonderful pick with its multigenerational characters; adventures in the past and present; colorful restaurant regulars; courses of mouth-watering Chinese food; and a young girl who wants to solve mysteries, make things right, see the people she loves find their way back to each other—and occasionally nudge folks to a realization with a custom fortune cookie.
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance was named a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature
Contributed by Megan Maynor, children’s book author, Minnesota Book Award Finalist and Edina resident. You can find her books at meganmaynor.com.