Friday, May 20, 2022

Review: The Power of the Pearl Earrings by Linda Trinh

Today's read dives into ancient warrior fighting (a favorite of mine), family, Vietnam culture, and elementary/middle school problems. This, I believe, is going to be a three book series, and I got my hands on book two. Nope, I didn't read the first one...because I seldom do that (it seems). This is a chapter book and meant for the slightly older end of that age those with a good handle on their words.

Ready to kick and head into school yard adventure?

The Nguyen Kids, Book 2
by Linda Trinh
Illustrated by Clayton Nguyen
Annick Press
Chapter Book
128 pages
ages 6 to 9

OCTOBER 18th!!!

I touch my earrings and feel a rush of wind. I can almost hear Grandma Nội’s laughter through them.

In Book 2, spontaneous and energetic Liz, the middle Nguyen sibling, is determined to prove she is just as important and brave as the fierce Trung Sisters, freedom fighters in ancient Vietnam that she learned about from Grandma Nội. That is, until the new boy at school threatens her plans by stealing her best friend and excluding her because she’s a girl. But Liz finds help and a powerful reminder of her Vietnamese heritage where she least expects it—in her Grandma Nội’s pearl earrings. By harnessing their mysterious power, Liz decides to show Michael exactly what girls are capable of.

You can find it:

Book Depository:



Note: I did not get a chance to read the first book in the series, but this wasn't an issue since it was no problem to dive right into the tale. Reading it as a series would have offered some background information, however, so I would tend to start with book one. Also, the copy I received did not have the illustrations, yet.

This tale takes a look at Liz, who is the middle child of three siblings, loves ancient freedom fighters, and comes from Vietnam heritage. She enjoys playing fighter with her best friend and is delighted when two new kids arrive in her class, but her joy ends soon. The new boy makes fun of her, is great at everything, and steals her best friend, starting an all boys club with him. Luckily, Liz has her Grandma's earrings because if she can figure out how their power works, she might be able to get everything sorted out again.

Liz is an energetic girl with a huge imagination and big heart. She struggles a bit with her position as the middle sibling and tries to make herself independent from her older sister, while irritated that her baby brother gets quite a bit of attention. Her popularity at school is understandable since she is a ball of sunshine, despite these issues, and has tons of fun. The Vietnam culture is also woven in very naturally and introduces young readers to different aspects. I especially enjoyed the addition of traditions, beliefs, and such. There's always something happening in the tale, and it's interesting to see how Liz will handle it all.

There are tons of messages packed into this read, which snuggle in with the plot. First, there's racism, which Liz's aunt faces with her customers, and Liz does make a statement herself towards others, which falls into this category. Then, there's the boys looking down on girls. There's the middle child syndrome. She has problems with her best friend alienating her and turning against her. We can't forget the bullying, and then, there's a 'new' kid issue as well. All of this wraps into the short read, ignoring the saying that 'less is often more'. While the story and Liz are cute, the messages gave the read the feel of a book on a mission and didn't explore or round some of them up as well as it could have.  Add, at times, choppy writing flow, and it slid a bit short of its potential. 

Still, I can recommend it. It's a cute read, and Liz is an awesome character. Despite the rough areas, the rest flows well and is entertaining. Liz's love for martial arts is inspiring, her warmth toward others is inviting, and it is a fun tale in so many ways. I recommend giving this one to those who are almost ready to cross the border from chapter books to middle grade reads and do think readers will enjoy it.

And here they are...

LINDA TRINH is a Vietnamese Canadian author who writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She explores identity, cultural background, and spirituality. Her work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines. She lives with her family in Winnipeg.

CLAYTON NGUYEN is an illustrator and animation student at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

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