Winnie Zeng Unleashes a ­Legend

­Listening Library. (Winnie Zeng: Bk. 1). Apr. 2022. 737p. $50. ISBN 9780593560013.
Gr 3-7–“Middle school. Is there a scarier place on the planet?” 11-year-old Winnie laments. “In books and movies, everything bad happens in middle school.” She’s not wrong, alas. Plenty of scary and worse are about to happen in sixth grade, but good will conquer a lot. Hoping to win a bake sale challenge against her frenemy David, Winnie uses her late grandmother’s cookbook to make mooncakes. Maybe it was that “essence of the moon” ingredient, but Winnie’s pet rabbit insists she’s Lao Lao in spirit, announcing Winnie’s shaman powers are dormant no more. Mythical mayhem ensues. Besides surviving sixth grade, Winnie also needs to save the world from evil spirits.
VERDICT Annie Q sounds like a youthful, cultural (Chinese American) match for introducing bestselling author Zhao’s new series, but her often overenthusiastic delivery pushes reluctant hero Winnie and her cohorts into farcical realms.

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