It's Boba Time for Pearl Li!

by Nicole Chen (Author)

It's Boba Time for Pearl Li!
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Perfect for fans of Kelly Yang and Jessica Kim, this joyful, moving middle grade contemporary follows a big-hearted Taiwanese American girl as she aims to gain her family's acceptance and save her favorite boba tea shop by selling her handcrafted amigurumi dolls.

Pearl Li is ready to spend the summer before seventh grade hanging out with her two best friends, crocheting the cutest amigurumi dolls, and visiting her favorite tea shop, Boba Time. Its quirky owner, Auntie Cha, is the only adult Pearl can confide in about her art--if only her tech-obsessed family would understand her love of crafts!

After Pearl learns of Boba Time's financial troubles, she decides to sell her amigurumi to raise money for the shop. But as she navigates the ups and downs of running a business, Pearl realizes that monetizing her passion is more complicated than she could've ever imagined. Can Pearl save Boba Time before it's too late?

Featuring fun backmatter--including a delicious boba tea recipe--this is a heartfelt story about advocating for your passions and uncovering big truths about friendship, family, and entrepreneurship along the way.

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Kirkus Reviews

The book's genuine tone and appreciation of craft, culture, and community will capture readers' attention. A well-crafted tale filled with heart.

Publishers Weekly

When her favorite boba shop faces closure, a Taiwanese American 12-year-old tests her business savvy, challenging her tech-oriented family's objection to her creative passions. While her busy parents concentrate on their startup, Pearl Li anticipates a summer of crocheting adorable amigurumi and hanging out at Boba Time with her two best friends: Priya, who's of Indian descent, and Cindy, who moved recently from Hong Kong. The shop and its charismatic Taiwanese owner, Auntie Cha, are staples in their California town, so when Boba Time experiences financial difficulties thanks to a popular Taiwanese dessert chain's opening, Pearl seeks to secretly raise money by selling her creations. But despite her awareness and resentment of her parents' time-sucking startup, doing business is a lot harder than Pearl thinks, especially with her parents vocally doubting the idea. She quickly encounters the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life, seeking to prove to herself and her family that her passion is valid. As Pearl and the people around her move toward appreciation and learn from one another, Chen (How We Say I Love You) writes an upbeat story of being true to oneself while embracing one's culture and developing empathy. Back matter includes a glossary of business terms and a boba tea recipe. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jamie Weiss Chilton, Andrea Brown Literary. (Feb.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Quill Tree Books
Publication date
February 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV013060 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
JUV003000 - Juvenile Fiction | Art & Architecture
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV006000 - Juvenile Fiction | Business, Careers, Occupations
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories
Family life
Moneymaking projects
Taiwanese Americans
Bubble tea

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