An uplifting middle-grade novel about loss, luck . . . and deep-dish chocolate chip cookies—perfect for fans of King and the Dragonflies and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise.

Seventh-grader Freya June Sun has always believed in the Chinese superstitions spoon-fed to her since birth. Ever since her dad’s death a year ago, she’s become obsessed with them, and believes that her father is sending her messages from beyond. Like how, on her way to an orchestra concert where she’s dreading her viola solo, a pair of lucky red birds appear—a sure indication that Dad wants Freya to stick with the instrument and make him proud.

Then Freya is partnered with Gus Choi, a goofy and super annoying classmate, for a home economics project. To her surprise, as they experiment with recipes and get to know each other, Freya finds that she may love baking more than music. It could be time for a big change in her life, even though her dad hasn’t sent a single sign. But with the help of her family, Gus (who might not be so annoying after all), and two maybe-magical birds, Freya learns that to be her own person, she might just have to make her own luck.

In Maybe It’s a Sign, E. L. Shen cooks up a deliciously voicey, comforting family story sweetened with a dollop of first romance, a dash of whimsy, and heaps of heart.
This story holds a lot of meaning for E. L. Shen, and as I was reading the manuscript my first thoughts were that it felt so genuine.
I had quite a few ideas for the cover illustration, more than usual and I'm glad I was not the one who had to choose which would be the final. I hope it does her story justice.

Book Cover Illustration and Design

In The News
A Junior Library Guild Selection

“A thoughtful portrayal of big feelings around loss and healing. An author’s note and recipes cap off this tender, wholesome story.” —Booklist

“Combining a dash of wholesome middle school romance, a generous helping of familial support, and a sprinkling of self-made luck, Shen serves up a realistic portrayal of the many ways that grief and healing can take shape in our lives. A hopeful and uplifting tale of loss, self-discovery, and the restorative powers of baking.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Freya’s reckoning with symbolism to connect with her deceased father is emotionally and culturally adept . . . The interrupted dynamics of a family unit are moreover depicted with compelling insight. A quiet, melancholic read adroitly lifted with just a baker’s pinch of first-love sweetness, Freya’s journey is sure to resonate with middle graders coming up against big changes and bigger feelings.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“With endearing narration and quick pacing, this gentle meditation on grief and healing by Shen carefully balances heavier moments of fraught emotion and high-stress situations with Freya’s sweet memories of her father and her growing appreciation for her new life without him.” —Publishers Weekly
Imprint Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
ISBN 9780374390785

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