This Is Just a Test

by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Author)

This Is Just a Test
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

David Da-Wei Horowitz has a lot on his plate. Preparing for his upcoming bar mitzvah would be enough work even if it didn't involve trying to please his Jewish and Chinese grandmothers, who argue about everything. But David just wants everyone to be happy. That includes his friend Scott, who is determined to win their upcoming trivia tournament but doesn't like their teammate -- and David's best friend -- Hector.

Scott and David begin digging a fallout shelter just in case this Cold War stuff with the Soviets turns south... but David's not so convinced he wants to spend forever in an underground bunker with Scott. Maybe it would be better if Hector and Kelli Ann came with them. But that would mean David has to figure out how to stand up for Hector and talk to Kelli Ann. Some days, surviving nuclear war feels like the least of David's problems.


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Publishers Weekly

In this sensitively written story from Rosenberg (Nanny X) and Shang (The Way Home Looks Now), 12-year-old David is torn between two identities and two friends, and since it's the Reagan-era '80s he's also terrified of nuclear war. David's Chinese and Jewish grandmothers have uprooted themselves to be closer to David and his sister, and both women vie to make their culture the dominant one in the house. At school, David jumps at the chance to learn how to be smooth around girls from popular student Scott. David's best friend Hector rounds out a trivia team that Scott and David form, but Hector's uncool tendencies (such as his repeated references to old movies) lead David to leave Hector out of Scott's new project: digging a fallout shelter. David is also preparing for his bar mitzvah, a journey filled with humor, emotional depth, and important realizations about what it means to be a friend and to embrace multiple cultures. His struggle to make sense of the Cold War will resonate with readers grappling with a confusing political climate themselves. Ages 8-12. Agent: (for Shang) Tracey Adams, Adams Literary; (for Rosenberg) Susan Cohen, Writers House. (June)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 4-8--It's 1983, and David's got worries: his impending bar mitzvah, his constantly competing Chinese and Jewish grandmothers, the cute girl who makes him nervous, and his popular new friend, who dislikes David's longtime best friend--plus, it's the height of the Cold War, and nuclear annihilation could hit at any second. David's lightly anxious tone; the progressively funny handful of short, dialogue-based scenes per chapter; the realistically kooky family members; and the 1980s middle-class suburban setting are so strongly reminiscent of Judy Blume's "Fudge" books that a well-versed reader might accidentally refer to the protagonist as "Peter." The authors cram in a lot of 1980s references (David Hasselhoff, Betamax). It's refreshing to meet a male protagonist who, like Tara in Paula Freedman's My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, is struggling with how to be authentically Jewish in a bicultural family. VERDICT Giggle-inducing, light, and charmingly realistic fiction that will resonate with a wide variety of readers.--Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for This Is Just a Test

2017 Sydney Taylor Award — Honor Book
CBC Book of the Year Finalist
2017 VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
New York Historical Society's Children's History Book Prize Finalist
2018 Young Adult Virginia Author Award Finalist

"For a book about the possible end of the world, Rosenberg and Shang keep the tone surprisingly light. . . . The dialogue is snappy and the plot fast-paced." — The New York Times Book Review

* "It's refreshing to meet a male protagonist who, like Tara in Paula Freedman's My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, is struggling with how to be authentically Jewish in a bicultural family. . . . Giggle-inducing, light, and charmingly realistic fiction that will resonate with a wide variety of readers." — School Library Journal, starred review

"There's a lot to enjoy, but it's David's relationships with his two grandmothers that steal the show, especially when the rivals eventually unite to teach him he's not 'half of each' but 'all of both.' A nostalgic and heartwarming period coming-of-age comedy." — Kirkus Reviews

"A journey filled with humor, emotional depth, and important realizations about what it means to be a friend and to embrace multiple cultures. His struggle to make sense of the Cold War will resonate with readers grappling with a confusing political climate themselves." — Publishers Weekly

"This novel tackles the very difficult topic of understanding who you are while appreciating your background and differences . . . In today's society, where families come in diverse variations and many children are growing up biracial and/or multiethnic, plenty of readers will find relevance to their lives in this middle-grade novel." — School Library Connection

"The first-person narrative engages readers with David's candid reflections as well as his droll telling of events." — Booklist

"Rosenberg and Shang keep the plot episodic and light, allowing David's feuding grandmothers to upstage the kids in many of the acts . . . Underpinning the domestic comedy is respect for fears that transcend generations." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"[A] seamless collaboration by two truly gifted writers [and] a perfect read for summer and beyond." — Christian Science Monitor
"Rosenberg and Shang infuse this story with humor, tenderness and a genuine examination of what it means to grow up caught between cultures." — Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Sure to hold a reader's interest and filled with humor." — Jewish Book Council

"This is the funniest middle-grade novel I read this year. . . . Everything about this book is satisfying." — Tablet Magazine

"A delightfully told story of competing sides in a tug-o-war/give-and-take battle, showing the reader that even 12-year-old seventh graders have a lot to deal with, whether it be on a grand scale such as international relations or on a smaller scale of balancing new and old friendships." — Compass Book Ratings

"Rosenberg and Shang's warm, mostly realistic handling of David's multicultural family speaks for their comprehensive understanding of the struggles of identity they depict, and makes David a unique and relatable role model of a character." — International Examiner

Praise for Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Praise for The Way Home Looks Now

An Amelia Bloomer Project Selection
A CCBC Choices Selection
A BookPage Best of the Year selection

* "[A] fine story of family, loss, growing up and learning to play baseball, raised to a higher level by gracefully incorporated themes of feminism and kindness." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Shang (The Great Wall of Lucy Wu) skillfully balances the different aspects of Peter's life, robustly characterizing his friendships and his time at school and home. Issues of sexism, racism, and struggles with depression are handled deftly in scenarios grounded in reality, including an ending that's hopeful without being pat." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Readers will cheer Peter on as his love for his family drives him to persevere at home and on the field. Parallels between home plate and home as place abound as grief completes its work and relationships are restored. Interwoven with cultural ties to both Peter's Chinese heritage and to the women's liberation movement, this touching novel shows the importance of patience — baseball." — Booklist

Praise for The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Library Association Award for Children's Literature

"A delightful story about assimilation and family dynamics . . . sure to appeal to young readers struggling with issues of self-identity, whatever their heritage." — Los Angeles Times

"Thought-provoking, funny, and incredibly heartwarming." — Booklist

"A realistic and amusing portrait of family dynamics, heritage, and the challenge of feeling like an outsider." — Publishers Weekly

"Genuinely touching." — Kirkus Reviews

"A unique look at the power of family." — Discovery Girls Magazine
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Wendy Wan-Long Shang is the author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, which was awarded the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children's Literature; The Way Home Looks Now, an Amelia Bloomer Project List selection and a CCBC Choices List selection; The Secret Battle of Evan Pao, which received multiple starred reviews; Sydney Taylor Honor Book This Is Just a Test, which she cowrote with Madelyn Rosenberg; and Not Your All-American Girl, a Tablet Magazine Best Children's Book, also cowritten with Madelyn Rosenberg. She lives with her family in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781338037722
Lexile Measure
690L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Scholastic Press
Publication date
June 20, 2017
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV039000 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | General
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV016150 - Juvenile Fiction | Historical | United States - 20th Century
Library of Congress categories
Humorous stories
History
Friendship
Grandmothers
United States
20th century
Families
Family life
Jews
Social life and customs
Humorous fiction
Chinese Americans
Ethnicity
1945-
Ethnicity in children
Sydney Taylor Award
Honor Book
CBC Book of the Year
Finalist
VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
2017

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