Title: Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter | Series: Chewy Noh #2 | Author: Tim Learn (site) | Publisher: CreateSpace | Publication Date: 2015-7-15 | Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1505851459 | Genre(s): Childrens & Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: Death, Racism | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter
“Chewy Noh has many problems. Besides his mom becoming a mu-dang—a Korean fortune-teller possessed by his dead grandmother who can read minds—the school bully, Kent, is still on the warpath to get Chewy kicked out of school. With his secret ability to win at everything, none of this bothers him until he starts disappearing for no reason while a mysterious force attacks his fellow students, and he must scramble to figure out what’s going on before he becomes its next and final victim.”
Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter Review
Chewy Noh is, first and foremost, a middle-grade mystery dealing with a Korean ghost and a young boy who aces any test or competitions he has. Along the way he learns something unexpected about his cousin, and his family in general.
I won’t lie, this was a bit of a difficult book for me to kick back and enjoy as I do with most children’s books I read. I spent a portion of it being distracted by some of the cultural mentions and their possible significance , and a larger portion of it underlining passages and thinking “Wait, this is a middle-grade book?” Tim Learn does not shy away from dealing with deeper issues in his books, and that is a good thing, but at the same time, I hope that the kids reading these books have parents or peers that they can discuss some of the issues with.
Such issues are: Death, False Accusations, Racism.
There were several things I liked. Namely, the main character was not white, and the author does not make an attempt to white-wash the character. Even if I did feel like I wasn’t really understanding some of the cultural stuff (face size apparently matters?), I appreciated the diversity. That the ‘side-kick’ was a kid with braces on his legs was cool, too. Not only that, but the kid’s braces were never really talked about in a way that would put him as “different”. Instead, they were mentioned casually, exactly the way a child might do if he saw nothing that was a big deal about another kid wearing braces.
The mystery really was a mystery, too. For someone who understands Korean culture, they might have clued in a bit before I did, but as it was, I had to patiently wait for the characters to tell me everything, because I was clueless! To be honest, I still don’t get the “Phantasm of Winter” reference. Probably something I overlooked.