Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Star Maker by Laurence Yep

Overreaching, eight-year-old Artie gets caught in a bad situation. He just said he'll have so many firecrackers at the New Year's celebration that he'll give them to everybody in his family. But that's a big extended Chinese family, and that will cost a lot of money he doesn't have - and his older cousins (who goaded him into the brag in the first place) aren't going to forget this whopper of a story.

Misfit Uncle Chester sees himself in young Artie - the youngest kid everybody picks on, the one everybody loves yet nobody expects to amount to anything. Can Chester help Artie with the lie? Or will Artie get laughed at again?

This book will expose kids to some really great Chinese traditions and Chinatown culture. Yet it's not preachy or foreign - at heart, the book's about a regular kid, and his position in the family and his community at large. He's got real-kid problems, and a real, flawed family who loves one another.

I did think it's funny that while set in 1964, the book's got a hefty 2000-era disclaimers about the danger of fireworks. As a beloved children's book author, Yep's not willing to be accused of advocating dangerous behavior (although it's at the core of the story!).

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