Future Author Extraordinaire (Cilla Lee-Jenkins #1)

by Susan Tan (Author) Dana Wulfekotte (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Priscilla "Cilla" Lee-Jenkins is on a tight deadline. Her baby sister is about to be born, and Cilla needs to become a bestselling author before her family forgets all about her. So she writes about what she knows best―herself! And Cilla has a lot to write about: How did she deal with being bald until the age of five? How did she overcome her struggles with reading? How do family traditions with Grandma and Granpa Jenkins differ from family traditions with her Chinese grandparents, Nai Nai and Ye Ye? 

Written by Susan Tan and illustrated by Dana Wolfekotte, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is a novel bursting with love and humor, as told through a bright, irresistible biracial protagonist who will win your heart and make you laugh.

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School Library Journal

Gr 3-5—Eight-and-a-half-year-old Priscilla Lee-Jenkins (aka Cilla) has big plans. She knows that her destiny is to be a world-famous author when she grows up, and is practicing by sharing her life story (so far) with readers. Tan writes in a fun and spunky voice that brings to mind favorite characters such as Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby, and Fancy Nancy but is still all her own. Cilla is biracial, Chinese and white, and has a lot of feelings about where she fits into her family. She sometimes worries about being "too Chinese" for her white grandparents and "too white" for her Chinese grandparents, and she is acutely aware that both sets of grandparents, while all a big part of her life, tend to stay separate from each other. She also experiences microaggressions from some adults who ask her questions like, "Where are you from?" and "What are you?," particularly while she is with the white side of her family. No one in Cilla's family really understands what it is like to be her, and while that bothers her, she is not looking forward to sharing her family—or anything else—with the new baby who is on the way. VERDICTHighly recommended for school and public libraries. Readers will identify with Cilla and wish they were friends with her in real life.—Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire:

This story has everything. An irresistible voice, a cast of authentic characters, a hilarious and whip-smart heroine. Also . . . some spectacular baldness and TIME TRAVEL! Cilla Lee-Jenkins is brilliant. Her struggles may seem ordinary, but they're also extraordinary, exquisite, and very very important. —Kate Beasley, author of Gertie's Leap to Greatness

"Cilla's empathy, candor, and skill at turning a phrase indicates that her claim to be a future author extraordinaire is completely justified . . . Anyone who spends time with Cilla Lee-Jenkins will look forward to reading her in the future." —Booklist, starred review

"[Cilla Lee-Jenkins] is 50% Chinese, 50% Caucasian and I think 100% wonderful . . . I suspect young readers will want to reach into the pages and hug her!" —Rachel Renee Russell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dork Diaries, for Omnivoracious.com

"Cilla Lee-Jenkins is the kind of book you can't wait to share. There's humor and heartache, and future writers of all kinds will see themselves in Cilla. But above all, this is a book just bursting with love." —Kate Milford, New York Times bestselling author of Greenglass House

"I challenge anyone to read this book and not fall in love with Cilla Lee-Jenkins. With the spunk of Ivy and Bean and the heart of Ramona Quimby, she's a charmer from start to finish of this laugh-out-loud-funny book." —I. W. Gregorio, author of None of the Above

"Cilla's liveliness, vulnerability, and thoughtfulness make her an endearing and entertaining narrator." —Horn Book

"Tan, who grew up in a mixed-race family, does a lovely job of showing how Cilla finds joy in both sides of her heritage." —Kirkus Reviews

"Tan writes in a fun and spunky voice that brings to mind favorite characters such as Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby, and Fancy Nancy but is still all her own . . . Readers will identify with Cilla and wish they were friends with her in real life." —School Library Journal

Susan Tan
WENDY TAN SHIAU WEI is a visual development and storyboard artist for animated series, advertising, and films, and an illustrator for children's books and publishing. Her work can be seen in TV commercials, radio stations, advertisements, shows, publishing, and fashion. Wendy loves telling stories through her work; storyboarding and comics are two of the ways she expresses her thoughts and feelings. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her family.
SUSAN TAN has lived in many places in her life, but calls Concord, Massachusetts, home. After studying at Williams College, she earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she studied children's literature. She currently lives in Somerville, enjoys frequent trips to Chinatown to eat tzuck sang, and teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Susan is the author of the Cilla Lee-Jenkins chapter book series, and the Pets Rule! series.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Square Fish
Publication date
March 20, 2018
Cilla Lee-Jenkins
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV039000 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | General
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV014000 - Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
Library of Congress categories
Family life
Friendship in children
Racially mixed people
Chinese Americans
Racially mixed children
Child authors
Chinese American children
Chicago Public Library Best Book

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