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Three Keys

Written by Kelly Yang

Part of the Front Desk Series

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Three Keys Review

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) Star Books

An off-the-scale amazing story of a community coming together in the face of anti-immigrant attitudes

Like its perfectly-voiced predecessor, Front Desk, I couldn’t love Three Keys any more. From its cast of adorable, authentic characters, to the gripping story of underdogs battling bad big guys, this is a sublime masterclass in Middle Grade fiction that pretty much all 8+ year-olds will adore regardless of their usual reading preferences - it’s a story that transcends literary boundaries as it explores divisive real-life boundaries in brilliant age-appropriate style. Kelly Yang is an extraordinary writer.


Life is looking sunshine-bright for Mia. Her family and friends now collectively own California’s Calivista Motel and she can’t wait to hone her writing skills while taking charge of the front desk and having fun with her best friend Lupe. But clouds loom in the form of a local Governor’s anti-immigration campaign and the upcoming vote on Proposition 187. Passing this law would mean undocumented children can’t attend school, as the author witnessed first-hand as a ten-year-old Chinese immigrant in 1994.


When the motel appears in the background of a TV broadcast, adorable long-time guest Hank (soon to be appointed Marketing Director) adds an “as seen on TV” line to the hotel sign that sees their bookings soar. As Mia tells a journalist she’s caught the attention of, “Here we treat everyone like family…No matter who you are and where you come from”, but not everyone agrees with the Calivista’s welcoming inclusive policy. In fact, when they add “Immigrants welcome” to the sign, their bookings take a downturn - and worse, for the property is defaced with “Go back to your country” and “Whites only” abuse. 


As the situation escalates, Mia does what she does best - she steps up and finds hope and strength through reaching out, in this instance through forming the Kids for Kids secret club with like-minded kids at school. But reality hits home harder still when the escalating hostile environment has devastating impact on Lupe, to which Mia and co respond by standing up for what’s right in an infectious spirit of humanity. 

Joanne Owen

Three Keys Synopsis

The story of Mia, and her family and friends at the Calivista Motel, continues in this powerful, hilarious, and resonant sequel to the award-winning novel Front Desk.

Mia Tang thinks she's going to have the best year ever: 1. She and her parents have a motel. 2. She gets to run the front desk. 3. She's finally getting somewhere with her writing. But, on a rollercoaster of challenges, Mia will need all her determination to hang on tight. If anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it's Mia Tang.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781913311155
Publication date: 07/01/2021
Publisher: Knights Of Media
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781913311155
Publication date: 7th January 2021
Author: Kelly Yang
Publisher: Knights Of Media
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Personal Social Health Economic , Racism / Multi-Culturalism
Recommendations: Star Books

About Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang's family immigrated to the United States from China when she was a young girl, and she grew up in California, in circumstances very similar to those of Mia Tang. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. Upon graduation, she gave up law to pursue her dream of writing and teaching kids writing. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, a leading writing and debating program for children in Asia and the United States. She is also a columnist for ...

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