After watching a few too many stop-motion YouTube videos by American Girl, I downloaded the first chapter of “The Real Z” on Amazon. “The Real Z” piqued my interest because the school I work at has a stop-motion film-making club and I wanted to learn more.
I downloaded the first chapter for free on Amazon and I was totally hooked! I jumped right on to my library’s website to reserve the book. The book is written by Jen Calonita, an established author of books for teens.
The book follows the character Suzanne “Z” Yang, a 13 year-old Korean-American girl in Seattle who is a fan of making AGSM (American Girl stop motion) video blogs (vlogs). The book is very much influenced by the #ZCrew AGSM videos American Girl has created. I loved the twist of a book character being an American Girl fan!
Z’s character rang true to me and that’s what made me devour the book. Z has school and neighborhood friends, but she also has online friends in the vlog world who are important to her. I thought that the inclusion of online friends was an excellent representation of safe and supportive online friendships. In fact, I believe many tweens and teens (and grown-ups!) in the AG fandom find similar friendships that support their photography, crafting, or fiction efforts. Z’s mom and dad view all of her vlogs before she publishes them, because, “once you publish something you can never take it back.” Sounds like advice I have given!
I also appreciated that Z is a highly creative person, and the author accurately portrays and highs and lows associated with being creative. The main conflict in the book is generated from Z’s creativity.
The book also helped me to learn more about Seattle and Korean-American foods. Fun!
I am eagerly awaiting the second book in her series “Z on Location” which is released on September 12th. If you are trying to prioritize which AG book to read next, I would put this one near the top.
I’m rating “The Real Z” five “Coconuts”!