September 9, 2022

REVIEW Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena by Julie C. Dao

Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena 
by Julie C. Dao
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: July 26, 2022
Format: Hardcover (Personal Library) + Audiobook (Giveaway Win)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 

*Please note - this post contains affiliate links, from which we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase

Julie C. Dao’s Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena is an epic middle-grade debut complete with fierce sibling rivalries, fairytale-inspired elements, and a mysterious laser tag arena all in one. 

Chu siblings Sadie and Clip have a stereotypical sibling rivalry; they excel in different areas, argue over who gets to pick where the family eats, and love getting to one-up each other. The one area they share an interest in is laser tag, and when the new Blackwood Gaming Arena opens in town it promises loads of fun and adventure. When the new virtual reality experience presents some unexpected challenges, they must overcome their differences and work together before it's too late. 

Julie captured the essence of sibling rivalry in this book. I saw a lot of myself and my relationship with my sister in Sadie and Clip’s interactions. Being the youngest sibling, I definitely connected with Sadie the most. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this, “When you have siblings, no one else in the world knows what it’s like to be one of you….Siblings grow up together. They have inside jokes, secret languages, and codes only they understand. It’s different from any other bond in the world.”

I'm so happy I picked up a print copy of the book because I loved the little illustrations interspersed throughout the chapters (i.e. older brother Clip triumphantly pointing his laser tag blaster down at little sister Sadie). I also received a giveaway copy of the audiobook (thank you to the author) and narrators Angela Tran and Richard Nguyen did a fantastic job with their performance. They really captured the youthful nature of the characters, the exuberance kids have when they get excited, and even the smug satisfaction of beating your sibling at something.  

A loose reimagining of the story of Hansel and Gretel, it was reminiscent of a kid-friendly version of Jumanji or Legends of the Hidden Temple. The ending was super fun, and I’m so excited to see what’s next for Sadie and Clip since this will be a trilogy. 

About the Author

Julie C. Dao is the author of several acclaimed novels for teens and children, including FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS and BROKEN WISH, published by Disney Books. A proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, she now lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

Julie is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of Context Literary Agency.
Photo Credit: Melody Marshall

Pronunciation: JOOL-lee DOW
Pronouns: She/Her

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear your thoughts! Post your comments here.

Be sure to check back again later, as I do make an effort to reply to comments.