Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit

Listening Library. May 2022. 834p. $63. ISBN 9780593608012.
Gr 3-7–Sutanto makes her middle grade debut with a Chinese and Indian mythology–inspired epic examining identity politics, bullying, capitalist greed, and unblurring the lines of integrity. “I hate that I’m a Chinese American kid who lives in Chinatown,” Theo readily admits. But he’ll have to change his attitude to get into the prestigious “Know Your Roots” summer program—because that’s the only way he’ll figure out how his older brother Jamie died. Sutanto’s chapters alternate between Theo and Kai, Jamie’s beloved spirit fox who’s compelled to become Theo’s begrudgingly cranky sidekick. Just as Theo and Kai are mismatched, so, too, are Caleb Yen as Theo and Kimberley Wong as Kai. Individual performances entertain, but listeners will quickly notice the jarring lack of continuity of characterizations between chapters.
VERDICT Fans of B.B. Alston’s missing-older-sibling “Supernatural Investigations” series will appreciate getting to know Theo

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