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Book Review: Maddy Yip's Guide to Holidays by Sue Cheung (Andersen Press)

Illustrated by Sue Cheung (super-talented!!)

For ages 7+

You're going to need a box of tissues for this one.... and just in time for Mental Health Week next week too! It's HILARIOUS!!!!!! Thank you Sue Cheung, for giving me giggles and captivating me inside your head with this superb middle grade follow up to 'Maddy Yip's Guide to Life' which was published by Andersen Press in 2021.

I had the pleasure of being on a publisher hosted Zoom with heaps of booksellers last year when Cheung introduced Maddy Yip to us for the first time. She won me over! Cheung is so down to earth, full of life and energy, and quite giggly. If you're familiar with Cheung from her previous (largely autobiographical) award-winning YA novel 'Chinglish', then you'll already be excited about being able to introduce children to Cheung's writing for younger readers.

About the story

Maddy Yip lives in a 'slightly' chaotic household with her two brothers (one older and one younger), her mam, dad and dotty grandad (or Agung in his Chinese dialect Hakka). Little brother, Oli is obsessed with Star Wars and his Luke Skywalker action figure; and older brother Jack is awkwardly into girls and getting anyone else to do things for him where possible. Not only does Maddy have to contend with her brothers, she also has to put up with her mam's child minding business children 'the evil twins' ransacking her bedroom at any given opportunity!

Everyone do a mental hair-pulling 'argghhhh' in compassion for Maddy at this moment! Seriously! How does she cope?! Thankfully her bestie Dev is always there for her. Dev is kind, generous, flamboyant and very fashion/pop-conscious, just the perfect fit for Maddy who plays things straight, gets rather stressed and needs a guardian side-kick like Dev to see life through.

It's the school holidays, Maddy and Dev are on a mission to find something to do and come up with an egg-cellent idea to break the world record for eating the most Easter eggs. In the meantime they spot a poster for a new rollercoaster ride at Sudmouth Amusement Park .... the MEGA BEAST!!!!! How on earth are they going to change the course of the future to be able to get to ride on it?! And you need special vouchers too... Hrm.

'Luckily' a plan to stop the 'devil children' (the toddlers) from breaking into her bedrooms goes horribly wrong. Think flour, water, pile carpet. Maddy's mam and dad arrange for her to go with Oli and Agung (who doesn't speak or understand hardly any English!) to stay at a friend's B&B for a few days whilst the carpet is replaced. What are the odds? It's in Sudmouth! And, the ultra adorable drama queen, Dev's coming too.

With 'monstrous killer albatross' seagulls, Agung's newfound obsession with local fish 'n' chip shop pickled eggs (and his subsequent whiff-horrific bottom burps), and the last minute discovery that the school bully is also in Sudmouth on holiday... it's a race against all odds to secure the enough vouchers from the local papers to ride the MEGA BEAST before they have to go home. There are daring rescues, some eye-watering outfits, and I daren't forget - a very huge slobbery overweight dog with a sugar problem who kinda saves the day. Will they make it onto the MEGA BEAST in time?! Will Agung ever stop eating pickled eggs!!

Maddy is extremely resourceful, determined and especially witty, both in her conversation, but also in her thoughts only shared with the reader, which makes the story even more fun. The reader gets to follow Maddy's thought processes as she weighs up possible options on what to do next. There are more laugh-out-loud and chuckle moments than I can count on my fingers and toes. Cheung's plentiful and top quality illustrations and expressive (sometimes explosive) fonts mirror the emotional rollercoaster of this cleverly constructed seaside adventure.

This is an hilarious seaside caper for the sunshine season that will be enjoyed by both confident and reluctant readers. The story is full of real life stuff - children being/feeling different, having to look after younger siblings or elderly relatives during the school holidays, living in a cramped home with a hectic family-life without much breathing space or privacy, being self-sufficient or thinking for themselves when responsible adults aren't around to help. Taking all this into account, it's still a happy story that takes place amongst friends and a family who love and care about each other. Wonderful 'guide' for empathy, and I'll try thinking of gerbils in egg cups next time I need a zen moment! Probably in 5 minutes...

About the creator

Sue Cheung (author & illustrator)

Sue Pickford Cheung was born Ying Yee Cheung in Nottingham in 1971. She was given her English name to make it easier for the other children to remember. Sue grew up in the very colourful environment of a Chinese restaurant, scribbling her doodles on the edges of menus. At seventeen the doodling paid off when she won a scholarship to the London College of Fashion, which led, in a roundabout way, to a job as an art director in advertising.

Her dream, though, was to live by the sea and write and draw children's books. Which she now does.

Chinglish, was Sue's first novel. Featured on BBC Woman's Hour, BBC Breakfast, the Guardian and in The Big Issue, it won the Diverse Book Award for 2020. Set in a Chinese takeaway, it's a largely autobiographical, YA novel and is very, very funny.

Maddy Yip's Guide to Life was the first in Sue's new middle-grade series for younger readers aged 7 - 11. Both Sue's writing and illustrations are full of comedy. Maddy Yip's Guide to Holidays, is the second in the series.

Key themes









Buy the book!

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: 5 May 2022

Format: Kindle e-book

Publication date: 5 May 2022

Format: Audible audiobook

Publication date: 5 May 2022

Also available:

'Maddy Yip's Guide to Life' (2021) - for ages 7+

'Chinglish' (2019) - for ages 12+

*Andersen Press provided me with a review copy of 'Maddy Yip's Guide to Holidays'.

Please like this post and leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts too!

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