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Mindy Kim and the Birthday Puppy

Book #3 of Mindy Kim
Illustrated by Dung Ho

Fresh off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in this third novel in an adorable chapter book series about Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl who wants a puppy for her birthday!

All Mindy Kim has ever wanted is a puppy of her very own. After all, having all the toy dog plushies in the world isn’t quite the same thing as a real one! She wants a dog to take on walks, teach tricks, and cuddle with. She knows she has what it takes to be the perfect pet owner, and she thinks a dog would be a perfect gift for her upcoming birthday.

But her dad isn’t so sure she’s ready for the big responsibility. Can Mindy prove to her dad that she can handle a new addition to the Kim household?

Chapter 1 Chapter 1
My name is Mindy Kim. I am eight years old.

That’s right—not seven, not seven and a half, but EIGHT.

Today is my birthday!

“Yay!” I jumped out of my bed with Mr. Toe Beans, my corgi stuffed doll.

The sun was shining bright outside, and even from inside my room, I could tell it was a beautiful day! And the best part? It was a Friday, and I was going to have a party after school with all my friends. I was so excited!

“Happy birthday, Mindy!” my dad said as he opened my bedroom door. “How does it feel to be eight?”

I quickly hid Mr. Toe Beans behind my back before Dad could see. I was eight now! I didn’t want Dad to think I still slept with a stuffed animal. Big kids didn’t sleep with dolls, and the bigger of a kid I seemed, the more likely it was that Dad would buy me a puppy. Dad had said he’d get me a puppy for my birthday. And today was finally the day!

“Good! I feel so big now!”

Dad put a hand to his chin, like he was thinking really hard as he looked at me. “Hmm, you do seem a bit taller than you did yesterday.”

“Really?” I bit my lip with excitement.

Dad laughed. “I’m just messing with you. But don’t worry, sweetie. You’re definitely still growing! Come down and eat some seaweed soup! Let’s call your grandparents!”

Every birthday, I eat seaweed soup for breakfast. It’s a Korean tradition! And then we call my grandparents in Korea so they can wish me happy birthday before they go to sleep. Korea time is thirteen hours ahead of Florida, so it was already nine p.m. there.

Mom used to always make seaweed soup for me, but since she wasn’t here this year, Dad made it. It wasn’t as good as Mom’s, but I didn’t tell him that. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Dad brought his laptop to the dining room table as I ate. Grandma and Grandpa were already on the screen, their smiles wide and eyes shining. They looked so happy to see me! And I was happy to see them, too.

“Saeng-il chook-ha-hae, Min-jung-ah!” said Grandpa, wishing me happy birthday in Korean. He used my Korean name, like everyone else did back in Korea.

“Gomap seum-nida!” I said thanks, bowing with respect.

My grandparents asked me a lot of questions about how I was doing and what I was going to do today. They always ask me lots of stuff when we talk, because we only call each other on special days. I don’t know how to call my grandparents in Korea by myself, and Dad is usually too busy to do it for me on regular days.

Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be the One. Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying psychology and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice. You can visit her online at   

Dung Ho was born and raised in Hue, Vietnam, where she studied graphic design at the Hue University College of Arts. After graduating, she worked in the design and advertising industries before discovering a great passion for illustration and picture books and becoming a freelance illustrator. Currently, she lives and works in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Ho draws inspiration from nature and the interaction between people and nature and especially loves to draw children. When not drawing, she enjoys cooking and watching movies.

More books from this author: Lyla Lee

More books from this illustrator: Dung Ho

More books in this series: Mindy Kim