Where Literary Legends Are Born

Happy Book Birthday To THE UNBEATABLE LILY HONG By Diana Ma!

Diana Ma’s first-ever middle grade novel publishes today with HarperCollins/Clarion! It’s a witty and spunky contemporary novel called THE UNBEATABLE LILY HONG.



A smart, funny, and heartfelt middle grade novel about Lily Hong’s attempts to save her parents’ Chinese school and the town’s community center using all the resources she has—devoted friends, ingenuity, a passion for filmmaking, mediocre dance moves (at best), and perhaps even her arch-nemesis.

If there’s one thing Lily Hong can’t stand, it’s being second best. That’s why she and Max Zhang have been bitter rivals ever since he swooped into town as the new kid with the cool clothes and his fancy downtown Chinese school and showed her up in the fifth-grade reading challenge.

She had wanted to be the one to win the pizza party for their class. Okay, so that was two years ago . . . her best friends Kelli and Lauren didn’t totally get it, but they were on her side. And that’s why they agreed to help Lily with her submission for the Clarktown’s Got Talent video competition. Filmmaking is Lily’s passion—which means winning is more important to her than ever.

Unfortunately, finding time to work on her video submission is proving harder than ever. In addition to doing regular homework and attending the Chinese school her parents own and run out of the Clarktown Community Center, Lily’s been getting weird vibes from her parents lately and she can tell something is up. Then her mom announces that the Clarktown Community Center is having its first showcase, and the students of Hong Chinese Academy will be performing as a group—traditional Chinese dance!

Lily is more confused than anything else—the community center is practically falling apart and they think this is a good time to put on a show? Could it be that the community center is in trouble and the only way to save it is to make the showcase a huge success? Lily has no choice. She’ll have to juggle the video competition and the art of Chinese dance simultaneously. But when Max Zhang unexpectedly shows up in her class at Chinese school with his perfect Mandarin and his surprisingly good dance skills, Lily might just have to embrace her longtime rival as a key part of her plan to save the community center.



“A delightfully adventurous romp with a lovably scrappy protagonist.” — Kirkus


“Strong character relationships and meticulously balanced interweaving plots make this a lighthearted tale that emphasizes how friendship—both expected and unexpected—can help save the day.” — Publishers Weekly




Diana Ma is a Chinese American and Hui author, advocate, educator, and parent. She was a 2019 We Need Diverse Books mentee with Swati Avashti and a 2021 Highlights Foundation Muslim Storytellers Fellow. Her debut novel Heiress Apparently was a 2021 Washington State Book Award finalist in the Young Adult Literature category. Recently, she was also selected to attend the Highlights Foundation’s Muslim Storytellers retreat. Diana believes that it’s important for all kids to recognize themselves as the heroes of the books they read. Her belief that diverse books help us create a better world is what drives her writing. She lives and teaches in Seattle.


Wishing you all our congratulations, Diana! Pick up a copy of THE UNBEATABLE LILY HONG today from HarperCollins, Bookshop.org, Third Place Books, Barnes & Noble, Target, or your local independent bookstore. An audiobook version is also available from HarperCollins!


Sending our congratulations to Diana! Visit her website, Twitter, and Instagram for more about her books.