Freddie vs. the Family Curse, by Tracy Badua

Freddie vs. the Family Curse, by Tracy Badua (middle grade, May 3, 2022, Clarion Books) is a great one for readers who relish the intrusion of fantasy into the real world! Freddie, the titular hero of the story, does not relish this intrusion at all, with good reason.

It was bad enough when he just had to endure the family curse of bad luck; not for nothing is he nicknamed "faceplant Freddie." But when he finds an amulet in the garage that comes with the trapped ghost of his great-great-uncle, Ramon, things get much worse than hideous embarrassment! Ramon "borrowed" the good luck amulet from his best friend, Ingo Agustin, back when they were teenagers fighting in the Philippine army in World War II. Instead of good luck, Ramon got cursed and died, and now that Freddie has the amulet, its angry spirits have turned their attention to him. He has only a few days to get the amulet back to Ingo, and get Ingo's forgiveness for Ramon, or he too will die...

Freddie is in a dreadful pickle. His great grandmother believes him (and enjoys getting the chance to hang out with her brother again), but his parents are deeply opposed to believing any Filipino folklore, and so won't help him find Ingo and get the amulet to him. Fortunately, he has his cousin Sharkey to help; she's related on the maternal side of the family, so isn't cursed with bad luck. And also fortunately, they find that Ingo's in a nursing home near Las Vegas, where Sharkey will be headed with her break dancing team for a competition. When Freddie's luck spills over and Sharkey sprains her angle, the cousins decide that Freddie (whose original audition for the team ended badly) will take her place.

Now Freddie has to overcome his penchant for disaster and learn the dance...and get across town to Ingo with just minutes to spare....

It's a great read, blending Filipino folklore and a nicely integrated bit of history that many kids will be unfamiliar with (I don't recall any mention of the Philippines in my WW II lessons) with real world struggles, making your own luck, and the cultural balancing act of multigenerational immigrant families. It's simultaneously a moving story and a funny, cring-ish one. Freddie is a character to cheer for, and Ingo's forgiveness of what Ramon did, and Freddie's ultimate success in the dance competition, bring the story to a very satisfying close!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

1 comment:

  1. I don't love the cartoony cover but I guess I am not the target market!


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