Review: It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li by Nicole Chen

It's Boba Time for Pearl Li by Nicole Chen

It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li
Nicole Chen
Quill Tree Books
Published February 28, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li

This 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?

It's Boba Time for Pearl Li on Goodreads

My Review

I feel like KidLit just keeps surprising me in delivering stories in which kids get to celebrate really cool hobbies. I don’t think I’ve ever read a middle grade book about someone who crochets before, so I totally enjoyed that aspect of Pearl’s story. One thing I loved were the descriptions of her creativity with her amigurumi designs and the way her friends and customers reacted to her creations.

Another thing that I treasure about this particular story is that it celebrated both girls who code (through Pearl’s older sister, Jade) and girls who craft, and found a way to connect the value of both in terms of both being creative pursuits. I liked that Pearl learns to view her art in a new way and to view her sister and mom’s coding in a new way, too.

The relationship between Pearl and Auntie Cha was also super special. I loved that it models mentorship and having great adults in your life outside the family, too. The story also keeps Pearl at its center as the active character making choices and learning without it becoming her mentor solving her problems. I thought the balance there was perfect.

I also enjoyed learning a bit about the art of amigurumi and about Boba tea as well. All in all, IT’S BOBA TIME FOR PEARL LI was a delight to read. I think readers who enjoy books like MORNING SUN IN WUHAN by Ying Chang Compestine will enjoy the celebrations of creativity and community in this book.

It's Boba Time for Pearl Li on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Pearl and her family are Taiwanese American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of IT’S BOBA TIME FOR PEARL LI in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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