Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang

prime-babyCindy: Thaddeus K. Fong is NOT amused to have a new baby sister. “My mother’s womb is a Trojan horse, I tell you.” Like many older siblings, he is resentful of the attention given to the slobbering baby whose only vocabulary is “ga.” When his math teacher explains prime numbers to Thaddeus’s advanced third grade math class, a light bulb goes on. His little sister only speaks in prime numbers, she must be an alien! “ga, ga.” “ga, ga, ga.” “ga, ga, ga, ga, ga.” etc. When the alien pods drop out of his sister’s mouth and the slug-like aliens disembark to spread their message of “smiles and happy feelings” this graphic novel really ratchets up! His attempt to warn the masses of the invasion via a YouTube video is priceless. Published first in serial format in the New York Times Magazine, the compilation Prime Baby (First Second, 2010) makes for a funny and original take on the new sibling story.

Lynn: I liked a lot about this book – illustrations, concept, characters – especially the baby and the aliens. The prime number baby babble really cracked me up and I loved the aliens. Of course I usually love the aliens ;-). I found Thaddeus amusing through most of the book. Thaddeus may be chronologically eight but he behaves like a thirteen-year-old – a self-centered annoying nerd of a thirteen-year-old with zero social skills and no friends. It all worked for me up to the mean trick Thaddeus plays on the aliens and his baby sister and then the story lost its charm for me. Yes, I know, Thaddeus has a small epiphany but it doesn’t appear to be either very deep or lasting and I finished the book feeling a tad let-down. Hey – Thaddeus remains pretty true to Thaddeus throughout the book so this caveat is just for the other hopeless optimists out there. Tell us what you think.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang"

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  1. I loved this when I first followed it in the Times and was delighted when it was published as a book (and I’ve a short review on my blog as well). I then read it aloud to my fourth graders who also enjoyed it mightily. (I have to say I have encountered 4th graders of Thaddeus’s ilk so he seemed plausible to me.) And I liked that his epiphany was small and Thaddeus is still the clearly snarky self-involved nerd he was at the start.

  2. Do you have another copy of that at school?

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