BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang

Prime BabyGene Luen Yang, who made publishing history as the author of the first graphic novel ever to be nominated for a National Book Award, returns with an irresistible, hilarious little book that takes sibling rivalry to whole new heights. First serialized in The New York Times Magazine and collected here “with a few changes,” Prime … is, well … prime for some good old-fashioned laughter.

Thaddeus K. Fong looks back with fondness on his 6th birthday party just two years ago. “What a poor fool I was then, blissful in my own ignorance,” he laments. “Little did I know how different things would be a mere six months later –” Enter baby sister Maddie: “My mother’s womb is a Trojan horse, I tell you.”

That’s just page one! Admit it … you’re giggling already. How clever is that Trojan horse thing?

Okay, so Thaddeus’ life is basically ruined and not just because no one seems to be able to resist Maddie’s “fat little baby cheeks.” At 18 months, she’s still not saying much more than a string of ‘ga’s … BUT (!) Maddie speaks in ‘ga’s repeated in prime number sequences only … and she’s anything but “dumb in the head,” a comment that initially lands Thaddeus in the corner, albeit making him a “Martyr for Truth.”

Truth happens when Maddie starts urping up alien space pods! When the pods release “missionaries of smiles and happy feelings,” Thaddeus’ lifelong goal of becoming a “smokin’ hot president” are temporarily foiled … how can he be the hero if all these aliens want to do is make nice and do good deeds? Who’s he possibly going to save?

When his parents finally witnesses the truth before their very eyes, Maddie ends up in a “secret underground research facility, accessible only through a fake wall in the broom closet of a Vietnamese nail salon downtown.” Sure Thaddeus has finally been vindicated, but then he starts missing that babbling bundle … even if she really is an alien portal! What we don’t do for our siblings …! You’ll have to read for yourself just how Thaddeus becomes a hero after all …

Click here to read my 2007 interview with Gene Yang.

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2010


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