Keep Dancing Lizzie Chu
The Lizzie Chu of the title lives in Glasgow with her grandfather, Wai Gong, a ballroom-dancing enthusiast, but since the death of his wife, Grandpa has started acting strangely, forgetting things and spending lots of time talking to his statue of the Chinese goddess of kindness, compassion and mercy, Guan Yin. Lizzie already has her hands full with shopping, cooking, even making sure household bills are paid, but now there are additional things to contend with such as Grandpa almost getting run over by a bus; and she does sometimes find it rather lonely since he’s started eating his evening meal in his room.
Then comes Lizzie’s twelfth birthday and it looks as though Wai Gong has forgotten all about it: not so her friends Chi and Tyler though and in the end she’s asked to go round to Chi’s to celebrate, which she does. When she gets home after an eventful time at the Phams, her grandpa surprises her by handing her an envelope, not from himself but from Grandma Kam. Inside are a jade pendant, a note and four tickets for the tea dance at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom in November.
Now all she has to do is to learn to dance and most important to get to Blackpool: it won’t be easy as there’s no money to spare and Wai Gong is now refusing to leave the flat and also insisting that he won’t go to Blackpool. Weirdly though when Lizzie goes to the Comic Con event she’s saved for ages to visit, she discovers her Grandpa there and he’s acting even more strangely than ever; and then he disappears.
To her relief when she returns to their flat there he is and something he says, gives Lizzie an idea of how to get Wai Gong to agree to go to Blackpool. Will she succeed in her mission? Perhaps with help from Chi and Tyler, some very clever costumes and a big brother with an old Mini, Lizzie might just manage it; but can anything help Wai Gong get better?
With her poignant, sometimes funny, and uplifting intergenerational story, once again Maisie Chen shows what a terrific storyteller she is; her characters endear themselves to you, especially Lizzie with her determination, powers of persuasion and problem solving. Cha-cha-cha anyone?
(Backmatter includes information about how to reach out for support with the dementia and grief issues raised in the story.)