Summary of the Book "My Favorite Chaperone" by Jean Davies Okimoto

Essay details

The essay is about the book “My Favorite Chaperone” by Jean Davies Okimoto. It follows the story of a family who migrated from Kazakhstan to Chicago, and the struggles they face as they adjust to a new culture. Maya and Nurzhan, the siblings, quickly adapt to the new customs while their parents struggle to understand them. Maya faces challenges in attending after-school activities and events, and her father becomes furious when she is caught playing with a boy. Maya takes on her mother’s responsibilities after she falls and gets injured, and she is eventually allowed to attend a school dance with Nurzhan as her chaperone. The essay concludes with Maya praising Nurzhan’s chaperone skills.
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Maya's Desire to Attend the Dance and Her Plan
  • Nurzhan as Maya's Favorite Chaperon
  • Works Cited


Today I will be talking about the book “My Favorite Chaperone,” by Jean Davies Okimoto. This story talks about how a foreign family migrated to Chicago from Kazakhstan. The parents were unfamiliar with the customs in the US since they have been in Kazakhstan for a long time. The siblings, Maya and Nurzhan became familiar with these customs and adjusted to them quickly. The parents weren’t understanding when it came to their children. The parents accuse them when something happens that shouldn’t happen in Kazakhstan.

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Maya's Desire to Attend the Dance and Her Plan

In the beginning, Maya says that she wants to go to the dance but her parents “don’t like the idea of having after school activities/events.” Mama says that she could be using that time to be doing homework or studying. Maya was in class when she got a sudden phone call, it was to the office. Maya didn’t know why she was being called to the office, she was scared. When she got there Ms.Johnson told her that her brother had gotten into a fight with Ossie. When she heard this she was shocked.” I have to talk to your father about this matter,” Ms.Johnson said.

Maya knew her dad would be furious, so she developed a plan. Maya called and she told Papa that Nurzhan was involved in a fight. Maya’s father came to the office and Maya translated what Ms.Johnson was saying, but she changed some of the words so Nurzhan wouldn’t be in big trouble. Maya’s dad was still mad even after she translated differently. He was really mad since he didn’t expect this from Nurzhan. Everything was mild until something really bad happened. The next event in the story was that Maya waiting for the activity bus when Daniel picked her up and started playing with her. “MAYA ALAZOVA!” Papa shouted. “EDEE SUDA! (COME HERE!), he exclaimed. Maya was scared for her life, she came to the car. The car was filled with an awkward silence.” The back of his neck was red,” she described. Once they got home, Papa yelled, “Gulnara!”“Why are you here? What has happened Aibek?” Mama questioned.” Is this how you raise your daughter! Is this what you teach her? Lessons to be a toy for American boys!” Papa shouted. Mama was quickly concerned with what Maya did. Maya told her what happened and then she got in big trouble. She knew she could never go to the dance now. Maya talked about how she imagined running away like the wind, behind the mini-mart, sailing past the E-Z Dry Cleaner, past the bus stop in an easy gallop through the crosswalk.

Maya overheard Nurzhan and Mama’s conversation. “It’s different here Mama. I’m sure Maya and those guys were playing. Joking, like in a game,” Nurzhan said. “Quiet, boy! You know nothing of these things! Mama yelled.” Maya was shocked because she never yells at her precious boy. On Wednesday afternoon of the following week, Mama was sitting on the couch waiting to talk to Maya. Mama’s ankle was all taped up, sitting with one leg up on a chair, next to a pair of crutches!

Nurzhan as Maya's Favorite Chaperon

Mama said she fell at work. “I’ll start dinner,” Maya said as her eyes started filling up with tears. Maya did all of Mama’s jobs that she was supposed to be doing. Mama couldn’t do them, so Maya had to do it until she gets better. Maya said she didn’t mind doing Mama’s jobs, even though she got very tired and scared that she was going to break things. Also, Maya had to cook dinner which was a struggle. Nurzhan was watching her and told her that she was bleeding and that the potatoes were covered in blood.The next evening, Maya sat with Nurzhan to help him with his spelling words. “I took the permission slip for the Spring Fling from my notebook and stared at it. I’d never thrown it away,” Maya said. Nurzhan took the slip and said,” let me try to get permission for you from Papa.”

Maya laughed and went to talk to Papa. Meanwhile, Maya didn’t think that Nurzhan would be able to convince Papa to go to the dance. “Maya! You can go!” Nurzhan jumped up and down with excitement. Maya was able to go to the dance, but with Nurzhan as a chaperone.

Mama came into the kitchen the morning of the dance and gave Maya a small gold bracelet. Mama told Maya that she gave a lot of work for Maya to do, for she is only a young girl. Maya and her friend Shannon met in the bathroom after school, while Nurzhan was waiting for them. Shannon said hi to him and he followed them into the gym. Shannon and Maya were laughing until Daniel and David came up to them. Maya started to dance with Daniel and talk to him. Nurzhan was watching but all Maya could see was an empty chair. That night Maya asked Nurzhan where he went. “The restroom,” Nurzhan replied. Maya then said,” You are an excellent chaperone.”

Works Cited

  1. Amdur, R. L. (2017). The jury system in America: Is it still necessary? Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, 64, 89-95.
  2. American Bar Association. (2020). The right to trial by jury. Retrieved from
  3. Fisher, G. A. (2015). The American jury system: Is it still a viable institution?. Texas Review of Law & Politics, 20(2), 289-306.
  4. Leipold, A. D. (2019). The future of the jury system in America. The Jury Expert, 31(3), 1-5.
  5. Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Sixth amendment. Retrieved from
  6. National Center for State Courts. (2020). Juries. Retrieved from
  7. National Judicial College. (2020). Jury systems. Retrieved from
  8. Papadakis, E. (2018). The American jury: Obsolete or indispensable?. Hellenic Journal of Psychology, 15, 27-44.
  9. United States Courts. (n.d.). What is a jury? Retrieved from
  10. Yaroshefsky, E. (2019). Is the American jury system still necessary?. Journal of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, 17, 39-54.

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