The book ‘Thai-Riffic!’ written by Oliver Phommavanh is about a young boy named Albert Lengviriyakul (Lengy) who just finished primary school and is moving on to secondary school. He is like lot of other kids starting high school. He’s worried about making friends, hopes no-one will make fun of him and wants to avoid every kind of way that will make him embarrass himself. Lengy’s family, his mum, dad, and little brother Kitchai own a restaurant named Thai-Riffic and he finds it embarrassing when someone he knows comes in.
Thai-Riffic! is an enjoyable novel for children and teenagers, 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, his attempts to play practical jokes on his friends and his creative ways and ideas on how to do things. For Lengy, 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. Lengy is always 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 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. It basically sums up how many freshman react and think when they begin high school and the book really projects the idea that everyone is different and in a good way coming from different traditions and customs.
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