Cover image for Peasprout Chen, future legend of skate and sword
Title:
Peasprout Chen, future legend of skate and sword
ISBN:
9781250165695
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York Henry Holt and Company, 2018.
Physical Description:
330 pages : map ; 22 cm
General Note:
Map on endpapers.
Summary:
"Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating. As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother, Cricket, have some pretty big skates to fill. They soon find themselves in a heated competition for top ranking. Tensions rise when the dazzling pearl buildings of the academy are vandalized, and outsider Peasprout is blamed for the attacks by her rivals ... and even some friends. Now she must uncover the true vandal to ensure peace between Shin and Peal -- all while becoming a champion." -- From dust jacket.
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Summary

Summary

Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating. As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend the famous Pearl Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother, Cricket, have some pretty big skates to fill. They soon find themselves in a heated competition for top ranking. Tensions rise when the dazzling pearl buildings of the academy are vandalized and outsider Peasprout is blamed for the attacks by her rivals . . . and even some friends. Now, she must uncover the true vandal to ensure peace between Shin and Pearl--all while becoming a champion.


Author Notes

Henry Lien is a 2012 graduate of Clarion West, and his short fiction has appeared in publications like Asimov's, earning several Nebula Award nominations. Born in Taiwan, Henry currently lives in Hollywood, California. Peasprout Chen is his debut novel. Visit him online at henrylien.com


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this auspicious and massively entertaining series opener set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world, a young woman pursues her dream of mastering wu liu, which combines figure skating and martial arts. Fourteen-year-old Peasprout Chen and her younger brother, Cricket, are sent to the Pearl Famous Academy as part of an exchange between their homeland of Shin and the city of Pearl, where they must prove themselves worthy by passing numerous challenges. Hazards abound, including rival students, sabotage, and diplomatic tensions. Peasprout attempts to protect her brother, avoid new enemies, prove her innocence when she's accused of being a spy, and excel at her studies, but her greatest challenge may be overcoming her own hubris and stubbornness. Building on a lushly described world introduced in several short stories, debut novelist Lien crafts a memorable setting and cast while delivering a fast-paced, tense plot full of surprises. The descriptions of wu liu are elegant and cinematic, and Peasprout's moves are as sharp as her tongue. Peasprout Chen is a future legend, indeed. Ages 10-14. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM Partners. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

When orphan siblings Peasprout and Cricket arrive in the city of Pearl as part of a cultural exchange to study wu liu, the beautiful and deadly art of martial skating, Peasprout vows to make her patroness, the Empress Dowager of Shin, proud. But Peasprouts fellow students--led by the arrogant Suki--would rather see her fail than help her out, and Cricket, who is small and less adept at wu liu, struggles to keep up. Then rumors swirl that the Empress is holding Peasprout and Crickets counterparts, the cultural-exchange skaters from Pearl, hostage, and acts of sabotage plague the academy, leading to suspicion that Peasprout is a foreign spy. Only two students--unsmiling Doi, whos locked in a death-feud with Suki; and Dois sunny twin brother Hisashi, who helps Cricket and whose gallantry makes Peasprouts heart beat faster--are willing to take Peasprouts side. As a portrayal of cross-cultural exchange, the narrative dazzles readers with descriptions of unfamiliar foods, architecture, and customs, while the ongoing mystery and intrigue will keep them guessing. The invented martial art of wu liu shines in its own right--vaults such as the seven-fingered somersault egret move and the two-heeled sesame-seed pestle jump are easy to imagine, and a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonesque disdain for gravity and the laws of physics lends a giddy effervescence to the tale. For a rewarding and well-constructed plot in an uncommon setting--plus some effective genderqueer subversion at the end--this story cant be beat. anita l. burkam (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Lien's exciting debut is a story of acceptance and bravery, friendship and hope. Peasprout dreams of becoming the best in wu liu, a mix of martial arts and figure skating. She finally gets her chance when the empress sends her and her brother to the Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, but when the academy's pearl buildings are vandalized, Peasprout receives the blame. To protect herself and her brother, she risks everything to discover the true vandal. Peasprout is independent and stubborn, acting as a parental figure to her brother. Being from rural Shin, she struggles to fit in at the glamorous and gossipy Pearl. War between countries creates constant tension in the background, but the fear and prejudice it causes is the primary focus. Peasprout is bullied and accused of being a spy, allegations that stem from the fear of invasion. She's so scared for her brother's safety that she goes to extremes to protect him, even hindering his dream. A riveting and complex read about new beginnings, family, and choices.--Konkel, Elizabeth Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

SUMMER BRINGS with it car trips - or, as they are otherwise known, yawning vacancies of hours. Consider it a service to your family to load up on the audiobooks now, so you can pop them in whenever the kids need beguiling. Begin by reintroducing them to Hans Christian Andersen - but only after forgetting everything you learned about him from Disney or Danny Kaye. There is, in fact, nothing benign about the great Dane. Thumbelina is kidnapped from the woman who grows her in a tulip from a grain of barley and nearly coerced into marriages with, sequentially, a toad and a mole. (Was Kenneth Grahame eavesdropping?) The Little Mermaid, desperate to meet her beloved prince on dry land, allows a witch to cut out her tongue in exchange for a pair of feet, which give her the sensation of walking on knives. The Steadfast Tin Soldier is swallowed by a fish and tossed into a fire. As for the Little Match Girl, literature has never provided a more depressing New Year's Eve, or a more compelling argument for child-labor laws. With that caveat in mind, HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES (Listening Library, 5 Hours, 50 minutes), narrated with surprising restraint by F. Murray Abraham and abetted by a cast of brightly pitched voice actors, offers just the kind of lush, unexpurgated introduction to the classic storyteller that any preteen book lover can warm to. Andersen's penchant for scene-setting and digression can push the running time of some stories toward the one-hour mark ("The Little Mermaid") and beyond ("The Snow Queen"). But "The Princess and the Pea," with its 20 mattresses and 20 eiderdown quilts, clocks in at a fleet three minutes, and reminds us in closing that "the pea was exhibited in the royal museum, and you can go there and see it, if it hasn't been stolen." It was no prop, the little book that Khizr Khan whipped out during his high-octane critique of Donald J. Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. For years, Khan had made a point of carrying around pocket Constitutions just like it and passing them out to visitors at his Virginia home like calling cards. That deep-dyed patriotism now finds perhaps its most natural form in THIS IS OUR CONSTITUTION (Listening Library, 4 Hours, 16 minutes), Khan's concise and lucid middle-grade primer. In addition to gleaning the why and wherefore behind America's foundational document, teenage listeners will meet up with the Declaration of Independence and a roster of seminal Supreme Court decisions. The actor Sunil Malhotra capably voices the book's nitty-grittier sections, but it is Khan's weighty and lightly sorrowful timbre - and his lived perspective as a Pakistani immigrant - that bookend the work and color each sentence. Reflecting on the most recent election, he refers obliquely to "certain politicians" who "encouraged ugly prejudices," but no scores are settled here, and, wherever possible, Khan leans toward hope: "I know the Constitution will endure because I've seen the dignity and the decency of the American people." The heroine of Rachel Hartman's TESS OF THE ROAD (Listening Library, 16 Hours, 15 minutes) is, to hear her family members tell it, a "spank magnet," "singularly and spectacularly flawed, subject to sins a normal girl should never have been prone to." And if these descriptions haven't already put you on her side, consider that she has a prig for a mother, a half-dragon for an older sister and a goody-goody twin who, unlike Tess, is marrying the man of her dreams. Tess celebrates that wedding by bloodying the nose of one of her new relations. Threatened with confinement in a nunnery, she takes to the road, where she adopts both a male disguise (shades of "As You Like It") and a newly-male traveling companion, Pathka, from the hermaphroditic dragon subspecies known as quigutl. Gender and its discontents indeed form the central theme of Hartman's entertaining picaresque, which picks up where her two previous fantasy novels, "Seraphina" and "Shadow Scale," left off: in a medieval world shot through with modern concerns. The book takes its time getting on the highway, and the slow pace is exacerbated by Katharine McEwan's demure and deliberate narration, which drains some of the pungency from Hartman's prose. In the end, the sly wit of lines like "dying took commitment. It was easier to go on living incompetently" may register better on the page than in the earbuds. I confess I had fun imagining the elevator pitch for Henry Lien's fantasy debut: "It's Hermione Granger meets 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' meets the Ice Capades meets 'Mean Girls.' " For all its disparate ingredients, though, PEASPROUT CHEN: FUTURE LEGEND OF SKATE AND SWORD (Macmillan Audio, 9 Hours, 8 minutes) speaks in a single, strong voice, thanks to its spirited heroine, a parentless girl of 14 who has traveled to the glistening city of Pearl with the goal of mastering wu liu, "the beautiful and deadly art of martial skating." Dreaming of glory, she enrolls with her little brother, Cricket, at Pearl Famous Academy, where, according to one sensei, "the effectiveness of our institution's curriculum is directly proportional to the misery of the student." The narrator, Nancy Wu, finds just the right blade edge between girlish naivete and brashness for our protagonist, who isn't about to be cowed by teenage queen bees or distracted by romance, and who registers her nearconstant displeasure with epithets like "Ten thousand years of stomach gas!" (She also believes that "boys who have dimples overuse them," which is empirically true.) When we last saw Roz - known to her makers as "ROZZUM unit 7134" - in Peter Brown's 2016 novel, "The Wild Robot," she was a battered hunk of steel being airlifted from her island home for repairs and rebooting. In the opening pages of THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES (Hachette Audio, 4 Hours, 36 minutes), Brown's equally charming sequel, she turns up nearly good as new at the Shareef farm, where her ability to speak to animals in their native tongues makes her a natural for wrangling livestock. But in the midst of her thriving new career, Roz is dogged by an old sorrow - the adopted gosling-son she was forced to leave behind - as well as an ever-present fear that if her human owners learn what's behind her metallic facade, they'll destroy her. "And that is why, when the time is right," she resolves, "I will try to escape." How she goes about that improbable mission, and with whose help, makes for a touching and suspenseful tale, even for listeners who are coming to Brown's heroine for the first time. The narrator, Kathleen Mclnerney, is adept at finding the warm pulse beneath Roz's monotone delivery, and the array of old-school radio sound effects - clicks and squeaks and moos and honks - gives "The Wild Robot Escapes" a texture beyond words. Best of all, listeners get a bonus PDF of Brown's spooky and evocative black-andwhite illustrations. Robots, dragons, martial ice-skaters, Hans Christian Andersen and the wonders of the United States Constitution. Consider it a healthy harvest of summer entertainment for your kids. And, if you're so inclined, keep the same audiobooks around for your own leisure breaks (should they ever arise). louis bayard is the author, most recently, of "Lucky Strikes."


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-In this martial arts fantasy, the Empress Dowager has sent 14-year-old Peasprout Chen and her little brother Cricket to Pearl, a city constructed from a porcelainlike substance that enables its residents to rely on skating for transport. Peasprout Chen and Cricket must adjust to a new school, the Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, where they confront cliques and mean kids while studying wu liu, a form of martial arts-style figure skating. Peasprout must also combat the rumors that she is a spy-rumors fueled by a wave of sabotage that coincides with her arrival. Much of this tale mandates an enthusiastic suspension of disbelief and an appreciation of over-the-top action sequences. In one scene, Peasprout swims in her skates; in another, students fling their partners high enough into the air to engage in aerial combat over the rooftops. In a problematic scene, however, a 14-year-old girl is left fighting in only her underpants, calling to mind a long history of scantily clad female fighters introduced into film and prose to titillate rather than empower. VERDICT The topless fight scene moves this book solidly into the do-not-purchase column, which is unfortunate because it might otherwise have found a home where high-octane action and adventure tales are appreciated.-Eileen Makoff, P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.