by Mae Respicio
It’s here! I’m thrilled to share my newest middle grade novel, HOW TO WIN A SLIME WAR. This one’s all about a creative, empathetic boy who finds his voice with the help of a joyful, top secret, sixth grade slime war.
I started brainstorming this story when my sons were into sliming, but I can trace the desire to write it back to my childhood. Growing up, the books I clutched to my heart were those that helped me peek into the lives of characters doing the same things I was: navigating friendships and school, and testing out their passions. But what those books didn’t have, which I truly longed for, were characters who happened to be Filipino American like me. They simply didn’t exist at the time. Fast forward to today, and I’m so happy to write the kinds of books I loved reading—realistic, slice-of-life, everyday stories about contemporary kids—but (finally!) starring diverse main characters.
In HOW TO WIN A SLIME WAR, Alex Manalo and his dad are re-launching their family’s struggling Asian market. Alex enjoys helping out in the store, but his true love is making slime. His dad wants him to be focused more on “traditional” boy pastimes, so Alex reluctantly joins the soccer team that his dad is coaching. While juggling family expectations, Alex enters a slime war full of savvy entrepreneurs, elaborate business plans, and—you guessed it—a whole lot of goo. This book has something for everyone from sports to science (woohoo slime recipes!), a bit of friendship drama (my favorite), and a colorful Asian market backdrop (omg the candy!).
The story also explores cultural identity in the way I did as a girl, woven into school and home life—those everyday moments of adolescence that seem small, yet can feel giant to the kid experiencing them. Alex discovers himself through time spent with his Filipino family, challenges in how he’s treated by others, and observations about the world around him—along with all the goopy fun.
Diverse books are transformative. They present rich mirrors and windows, and act as building blocks to empathy. And just as imperative as books that focus on cultural identity and history, are the stories that feature diverse kids in their daily moments.
HOW TO WIN A SLIME WAR is a book I would have held tight growing up—an everyday story full of bighearted, everyday joy—at last with an Asian American character at its heart. A boy who, like all the other kids, is just doing his best to figure it all out… with the help of a few sticky situations along the way.
Mae Respicio writes middle grade novels full of hope and heart including ANY DAY WITH YOU and HOW TO WIN A SLIME WAR. Her debut, THE HOUSE THAT LOU BUILT, won an Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association Honor award, was an NPR Best Book, and was named to many state reading and “best of” lists. She lives with her family in the suburban wild of Northern California. Learn more at www.maerespicio.com.