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Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Cover of Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids call...
One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids call...
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Description-

  • One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.
    On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids call her "Yu-MEAT" because she smells like her family's Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she's reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.
    Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she's a girl named Kay Nakamura—and Yumi doesn't correct them.
    As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    Chapter 1

    I should have known better than to think anyone would listen to me at the Korean beauty salon.

    "You want the perm?" asks the stylist in leather pants, running her fingers through my limp hair.

    "Uh, I—I was thinking," I sputter, showing her my phone, "maybe you could give me something like this instead?"

    After scrolling through Pinterest for "hairstyle makeover" all week, I've settled on this sleek pixie cut. It's definitely shorter than anything I've ever had before, but maybe that's exactly what I need before seventh grade starts next month. A change. Something bold for the New Me.

    Mom emerges from the dressing room in a shiny black robe and plucks the phone from my hands in one swift motion.

    "Yumi, no." She raises a generously penciled-in eyebrow. "Too short. You will look like a boy from BTS!"

    "Mom!" I grab my phone back, ignoring the three robed aunties (who aren't really my aunties) laughing in the chairs next to me. "This is a really popular hairstyle these days."

    "Let me see." My stylist's leather pants squeak as she bends over for a closer look. "No good. Your cheeks are too big for this cut."

    I examine the picture again, noticing the model's sunken cheeks for the first time. I steal a glance at myself in the mirror, subtly sucking in my face.

    Leather Pants scrunches my hair in her hands. "You need more volume." She combs my hair forward, obscuring the sides of my face. "Covers your yeodeureum."

    My Korean isn't that fluent, but I know she's talking about my acne.

    "She is right," Mom says.

    My stomach twists. "Yeah, but I—I don't know. That's not the look I'm—"

    Without letting me finish, Leather Pants turns to Mom. "Perm?"

    "Yes, much better for her." She nods her chin to confirm and spins her chair to join the gaggle of gossiping aunties. Before I can object, they're back to swapping intel.

    "Did you hear that Kim moksa-nim from Hosanna Baptist is sending his son to Cornell?"

    "How about his other son? Tall lawyer?" Mom gives them a knowing glance. "He's same age as my older daughter."

    Oh brother, not this again.

    Meanwhile, a sharp chemical odor stings my nostrils as strands of my hair are twirled around spools attached to a giant octopus-like machine.

    So this is what disappointment smells like. Another perm. So much for the New Me.

    When my hair is completely rolled up, the perm machine and I are sent to the ventilated lounge for a half hour to marinate. Good thing I brought my new Super-Secret Comedy Notebook. I take it out from my bag and jot down something I've been thinking about.

    It's really frustrating that my parents compare me to their friends' kids.

    It's always "Why can't you play piano like Grace?" or "Why can't you speak Korean better like Joon?"

    The other day they were telling me, "Did you know that Minji got into Harvard?"

    I said, "Mom, give me a break. I'm only eleven years old!"

    Then she tells me, "Minji is nine!"

    Mom approaches, her head covered in enough aluminum foil to transmit radio waves to Mars. I immediately shove my notebook into my bag before she can scold me for "wasting time with that comedy nonsense."

    She scoots the magazines off the chair next to me and sits. "Yumi, I have to tell you something very important."

    I freeze. "About what?"

    She picks up her steaming cup of barley tea with both hands. "You know," she says carefully, "business is not so good at restaurant right now."

    "Uh-huh." This is not news. It's pretty much all my parents talk about these days. Ever since the...

About the Author-

  • Jessica Kim writes about Asian American girls finding their way in the world. Before she was an author, Jessica studied education at UC Berkeley and spent ten years teaching third, fourth, and fifth grades in public schools. Like Yumi, Jessica lives with her family in Southern California and can't get enough Hot Cheetos, stand-up comedy, and Korean barbecue.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 3, 2020
    In Kim’s well-paced debut, 11-year-old aspiring comic Yumi Chung struggles between her dreams and her Korean parents’ wishes. Shy Yumi is frustrated when her mother enrolls her in test-prep tutoring to qualify for an academic scholarship at prestigious Winston Academy. But when Yumi accidentally assumes an absent camper’s identity at YouTuber Jasmine Jasper’s comedy camp, her summer suddenly seems promising. What follows is a balancing act of making new friends and sustaining parental expectations amid looming worries about Yumi’s older sister, Yuri, and the financial state of the Chungs’ restaurant. Amid fresh-feeling comic framing and contemporary conflicts about gentrification and community involvement, the narrative employs several elements that will be familiar to readers of similar titles—Yumi’s strict immigrant parents compare her to other kids and expect good grades, genius Yuri is in medical school, and there’s a lack of clear intergenerational communication. Yumi’s friends and heroes are diverse, which feels genuine to the Los Angeles setting, and her gradual journey toward self-confidence will resonate with anyone who has had shy or awkward stages. Interspersed with entries from Yumi’s Super-Secret Comedy Notebook, the engaging first-person narrative is a good first step into a rich landscape of reads about first-generation immigrant experiences. Ages 9–12. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Greta Jung's exuberant voice captures the honesty, humor, and conflict in Kim's poignant narrative. Yumi's hardworking immigrant parents want her to attend Hogwan on a prestigious scholarship, but when she stumbles into a comedy camp led by her favorite YouTuber, she can't stop herself from joining. Jung's pacing captures Yumi's stress and exhilaration as she struggles to balance her dreams and her family's expectations. Precise characterizations shine in conversations between Yumi and her parents, sister, and friends. The story explores cultures as characters work to understand one another and Yumi seeks to find her voice. As the action builds to a stirring conclusion, Jung's delivery and Kim's writing are a winning combination. K.S.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2020

    Gr 3-7-Greta Jung energetically embodies 11-year-old Yumi Chung's evolution from quiet odd-girl-out to feisty stand-up-comedian-in-the-making. At her exclusive L.A. private school, Yumi is rarely noticed, except by the bully harassing her as "Yu-MEAT" (for her barbecue-scent-infused clothing from helping at her family's Koreatown restaurant) or "Top Ramen" (for the bad perms enforced by her mother). Conditioned by her genius older sister, in her second year of med school at 20, Yumi's parents expect no less achievement. As seventh grade looms, Yumi needs a scholarship (via near-perfect test score) to continue her privileged education, so her parents enroll her at an all-summer, Korean-style cram school. Bad luck, until a case of mistaken identity (a cringe-inducing all-Asians-look-alike stereotype) enables her to join a comedy camp taught by her YouTube comic idol. That's where Yumi-most ironically-becomes the true self she's been composing in her "Super-Secret Comedy Notebook." Yumi learns to stand up for her family, friends, and, most importantly, herself. Jung nimbly complements spunky Yumi with equally affecting characterizations of her immigrant parents, her not-quite-perfect sister, and her quickly growing audience. VERDICT Kim's debut gets a spot-on audio boost for even the most reluctant readers.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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