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Millicent Min, Girl Genius

By Lisa Yee

Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Doogie Howser: Meet Millicent Min. 

Millicent Min is having a bad summer. Her fellow high school students hate her for setting the curve. Her fellow 12-year-olds hate her for going to high school. Her grandmother Maddie is moving away. And in an effort to give Millicent a more “normal” childhood, her mom has not only signed her up for volleyball (“What could be normal about moving in rotation?”), she’s arranged for her to tutor Stanford Wong, jock, jerk, and poster boy for Chinese geekdom.

But when Millicent meets Emily, things start to look up. Emily doesn’t know Millicent’s IQ or SAT scores. She actually thinks Millie is cool. And if Millie can hide her awards, ignore her grandmother’s advice, blackmail Stanford into silence, learn to serve a volleyball over the net, stop her parents from embarrassing her forever, and keep all her lies straight, she just might make her first friend.

What’s it going to take?

Sheer genius.


“Milli-scent,” he said.

“Stan-ferd,” I replied.

We both looked over to our grandmothers, who were waving and giving each other so many little nudges that one of them was bound to tip over at any moment. We smiled back and then returned to glaring at each other.

“You’re ruining it for the rest of us,” he hissed. “Stop it.”

“Stink-ford, I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Whizzing through elementary school, skipping middle school, starting high school at the tender young age of nine. Because of you teachers expect every Chinese kid to be a genius.”

Stanford is not a genius. Far from it. According to Maddie, he gets bad grades, is a goof-off in class, and has little aptitude for academics, although, she is always quick to add, his penmanship is excellent.

“I will try my best to do worse,” I told him. “I’ll simply use you as my model."

Reviews and Awards

Sid Fleischman Humor Award 2004
Publishers Weekly Flying Start
CCBC Choice
Bank Street Book of the Year 2004
IRA Children's Choice
2005-2006 Texas Lone Star List Nominee
The Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
Georgia Book Award Nominee
Garden State Book Awards Nominee
Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award Nominee
Nevada Young Readers Award Nominee
Nene Award Nominee (Hawaii)
Insinglass Teen Award Nominee (New Hampshire)
Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee - Pacific Northwest Library Association
South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee

“An utterly charming debut, as well as being the kind of tour de force that leaves one breathless. Can Yee really keep all those plates in the air – create a bona fide genius voice for her young narrator, juggle all the plot elements, and still finish without faltering? Turns out she can. … Millie is the the most likable unlikable hero since Jane Austen’s Emma… Yee’s mastery of the “girl genius” voice is flawless, by turns hilarious and poignant.” - Boston Globe

⋆ “Readers don't have to share Millicent Min's IQ to empathize with the 11-year-old genius narrator featured in this energetic first novel. Millicent breezes through high school and college classes, but when it comes to making friends her own age, she's at a loss. … Millicent's unique personality a blend of rationality and naiveté makes for some hilarious moments as the young protagonist interacts with a cast of colorful characters including her athletic, down-to-earth mother, her laid-back father, and her beloved grandmother, who borrows sage advice from the television show, Kung Fu. Yee re-examines the terms "smart" and "dumb," while offering a heartfelt story full of wit.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Funny, charming, and heartwarming, with something to say about the virtues of trust and truth telling, this deserves an A.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Millie, an 11-year-old with a genius IQ, is taking a college poetry class and waiting for her high school senior year. … [H]er trials and tribulations result in a story that is both funny and heartwarming. A universal truth conveyed is that honesty and acceptance of oneself and of others requires a maturity measured not by IQ but by generosity of spirit.” - School Library Journal

“Millicent Min may be a girl genius, but outside of academics she's not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.… Readers will laugh and groan at her ultra-geeky efforts to fit in and will share her relief when she finally does make a friend.… In Yee's smartly funny debut novel, the young narrator's voice-amusingly formal, ridiculously rational, stubbornly objective-is sustained throughout, even when Millicent begins (after being outed as a genius and taught a lesson about friendship and trust) to learn how to let loose (a little) and have fun. An interesting variant on the unreliable narrator, Millicent often uses her scholarly, impartial voice as a cover for her true feelings; even nongenius readers will see through her - and will feel a little smarter for it.” - The Horn Book

“Yee's first novel examines child prodigies from a refreshing angle, allowing nongeniuses to laugh appreciatively at the ups and downs of being a whiz kid.” Booklist 

Purchase Options
Indiebound Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Fall 2003
Middle Grade Novel
ISBN: 0-439-34257-0
Price: $15.95
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4
Page Count: 192
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes

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