'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 24 November 2011

Review: Thai-Riffic!

Albert (Lengy) Lengviriyakul is like lots of other kids starting high school. He’s worried about making friends, hopes no-one comes up with a horrible nickname for him and finds his family a little bit embarrassing.

High school doesn’t turn out to be as difficult as Lengy expected. His teacher is quirky and fun, he makes a new friend, Rajiv, who thinks Lengy’s family is great and everyone seems to love Lengy’s parents and their Thai restaurant, Thai-riffic! Everyone but Lengy, who wishes he could have pizza for dinner and a surname that other people could pronounce.

This debut novel from comedian and teacher Oliver Phommavanh is a fun look at cultural diversity. Lengy is so busy focusing on how he is different from everyone else and trying to sabotage his family’s attempts to share their Thai culture with his teachers and friends, that he doesn’t notice that he’s surrounded by people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Thai-Riffic! is an enjoyable novel for kids, sharing information about Thai culture and some insight into what it is like to be a cultural outsider. The story is narrated by Lengy and his thoughts about his father’s lame jokes, his worries about standing out and his attempts to play practical jokes on his friends are sure to strike a chord with many readers.

From special recipe purple curry to donut eating contests, mud wars at the Thai New Year festival to spotting a food critic visiting the restaurant, Thai-riffic! is filled with entertaining stories from Lengy's life as well as a more significant message for those readers who want to look a little deeper.

Title: Thai-Riffic
Author: Oliver Phommavanh
Publisher: Penguin Australia, $16.95 RRP
Publication date: 28 May 2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-14-330485-2
For ages: 9 – 14 years
Type: Junior fiction