Gigi Shin Is Not a Nerd

S. & S./Aladdin. (Gigi Shin Is Not a Nerd: Bk. 1). Mar. 2024. 192p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665939171.
Gr 3-7–A seventh grader sets her sights on a prestigious art program in New York, but needs to raise money, navigate sticky friendship situations, and convince her parents that being an artist is a worthwhile pursuit along the way. Korean American Jiyoung “Gigi” Shin loves art, but her immigrant parents, who run a grocery store in Texas, want her to have a more stable and lucrative career, like a scientist or engineer. Gigi and friends Zeina Hassan, Carolina Garcia, and Emma Chen start a tutoring club to raise money to attend the young artists’ program that receives tens of thousands of applications from all around the world. Running a small business comes with unforeseen issues: difficult tutees, scheduling challenges, and hurt feelings among the friends. The tension caused by bad communication, disagreements, and changing allegiances resolves quickly as they work through their issues by taking responsibility and talking things through. When Gigi’s parents find out about the tutoring club, she lands in hot water but uses the opportunity to show her parents the art she has kept secret from them to prove that the club is making a positive impact. Serviceable, unadorned writing tells the relatively low-stakes small plot, but Gigi’s authentic voice and feelings and the strong, nuanced secondary characters shine. Hand this to readers who enjoy the simple camaraderie and entrepreneurship of “The Baby-Sitters Club” series.
VERDICT A solid realistic fiction series opener about pursuing passions and working toward a goal.

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