Book Review: “Maddy Yip’s Guide to Holidays” by Sue Cheung

Sue Cheung is well on her way to becoming a household author’s name since the release of the award-winning young adult memoir/novel Chinglish. After that came Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life, the comical and equally highly-rated book aimed at late primary and early secondary school children.

Now, less than a year later, its sequel Maddy Yip’s Guide to the Holidays is out, which shows hard work and dedication to not leave fans hanging for a follow-up.

Guide to the Holidays continues chronicling Maddy Yip’s non-stop mad life, this time as she tries to find something fun to do during the Easter holidays. As many parents know, this can be a conundrum if you can’t go away for the holidays and especially if you have three children to look after. Maddy’s “mam” and dad not only have three children, but an elderly man to house and sometimes two “evil twins” to childmind.

Thankfully, partly due to her own fault really, Maddy does actually end up being able to go away on holiday – to the nearby seaside town of Sudthorpe! Basically like Blackpool but there appears to be more old people and less chavs. But her little breakaway with her best friend dramatic Dev, her annoying little brother Oli and devil may care Agung (grandad), is mostly spent desperately trying to get highly sought after vouchers to go on the Mega Beast – a wild-looking rollercoaster at Sudthorpe’s version of the Pleasure Beach.

Meanwhile, older brother Jack stays behind with a friend while their parents do a bit of home renovation.

Sue Cheung has, in her few short years of book writing, already found a style of doing so that is unique for and identifiable of her. Her whimsical illustrations detailing the hilarity of Maddy’s adventures could easily fill a full comic book series (next idea? Royalties please!) for these crazy characters and others. And her cheesy but laugh out loud jokes told through Yip as well as storytelling abilities that feature unbelievably funny and unfortunate anecdotes that never seem to stop for Maddy but constantly seem to stop her from fulfilling her goal, make for a seamless, easy and enjoyable read. I personally finished the book in a few short hours that if I didn’t have other things to be doing, it would have been sooner. Ok, it is primarily aimed at 8-12 year olds but still…

My only stipulation is that more could have happened in the story – yes, more in Maddy’s never-ending life of mishaps – to make it a longer book. We get more of Dev, who is an over-the-top and fashion-frenzied opposite to the more unremarkable in comparison Maddy (as she felt in the previous book). Oli is also given more page time and being the youngest it will be interesting to see how – and if – he matures. Jack, being the eldest, is unlikely to be more than a background supporting character, though could certainly get times to shine in the future if it was a bid to appeal to older children, particularly boys. And of course Agung is a co-star in Maddy Yip’s world as his addled mind and bumbling wanderings make for more ensuing chaos and amusing moments.

As with Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life, this sequel is a must-read for children. Children who have not yet seen and want to see children that look like them on the cover of books and in described on the pages. Children who want a funny and relatable book to read that sounds like their own home lives and holidays. Children who. Children who can be kept in suspense, kept wanting more after and of course, kept busy and quiet (except when chortling aloud) for a few hours!

On the other hand, us adults can also enjoy it as we relive our own youths through Maddy and her family. Some of us will understand what it’s like to have a best friend who is both very different and yet also for other reasons we don’t know still our best friend, siblings that annoy the hell out of us, parents who baffle and embarrass us and grandparents who do the same yet on a whole other level, plus perhaps need our care and attention more than our siblings do. And no doubt people from ESEA communities will find an affinity with it on a different level too, such as growing up mixed race, baffled by cultural differences and exasperated by the generational gap.

So if you’re looking to diversify your children’s bookshelf and help champion diverse authors, Maddy Yip’s Guide to Holidays will be a fitting addition to that shelf and list.

Rating: 4/5

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