In the way that young children often do, when pressed by his bullying older cousin Petey 8-year-old Artie boasts that he'll provide the whole family with firecrackers for the upcoming Chinese New Year.ÃÂ Firecrackers are expensive, and he quickly regrets the promise, but Petey won't let him forget it. Uncle Chester, like Artie, is the youngest of his generation and has also been the target of a little bullying. He has yet to achieve financial independence, wasting too much time and money betting on horses and enjoying the camaraderie of a vividly depicted 1950s-era San Francisco Chinatown. Chester tries to help Artie out by spending time with him, but he also begins to enjoy the company of a young female shopkeeper, a relationship the child at first regards jealously but then accepts because of its positive effect on his beloved uncle. Reminiscent of Tomie dePaola's 26 Fairmount Avenue books, this brief tale tenderly portrays a large, loving extended family and presents a rich multicultural theme and an engaging plot for middle-to-upper–elementary readers.ÃÂ (Historical fiction. 8-12)
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Drawing from his rich cache of childhood memories, Yep (The Dragon's Child) offers an affectionate celebration of family, cultural traditions, and San Francisco's Chinatown in the early 1950s. Like his beloved, bighearted Uncle Chester, eight-year-old Artie is the youngest of his generation, and both are used to getting an earful ("All the ‘grown-ups' want to do is pick on me," Uncle Chester jokes). Constantly belittled by his cousin Petey, Artie boasts that he'll have so many firecrackers on Chinese New Year that he'll "give them away" to family members. Uncle Chester promises to help Artie keep his pledge, but as the holiday approaches, this seems unlikely: Uncle Chester loses money at the racetrack and can't find work, and Artie, counting on his uncle, has spent his savings. Yep skillfully portrays the significance and emotional nature of common childhood dramas, from fears of going back on one's word to worries of losing a favorite uncle to a new girlfriend. Though Artie and Chester shine brightest, Yep has crafted other memorable characters, including Chinatown itself, which sparkles with energy and camaraderie. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 3-6--Who hasn't made a foolishly extravagant promise and lived to regret it? Set in the 1950s in San Francisco, this story begins at a family celebration. Eight-year-old Artie is the youngest of his generation, and his older brother and one of his cousins won't let him forget it. He's always selected last, picked on most, and generally gets the least recognition from his relatives. When Artie is goaded into bragging that he knows so much about fireworks that he'll have enough to give away, Petey tricks him into saying that he'll provide enough for the whole family for Chinese New Year. Artie's uncle, Chester, the youngest of his generation, empathizes, and offers to help Artie out. The narrative is largely about Artie's relationship with his uncle, who helps him keep his word, and Artie helps Chester get his priorities in order. It's a wonderful family story about expectations and responsibility but it's done with a light and tender touch and is steeped in both Chinese and San Franciscan culture. While the plot is engaging and relatable, the novel might be too challenging for the youngsters initially drawn to the cover, and middle school readers might dismiss it as too babyish. Grace Lin's The Year of the Dog (Little, Brown, 2006) is an easier read with similar subject matter and characters. Yep addresses the dicey idea of giving fireworks to children by providing an introduction explaining that this story is based on his own memories, and that firecrackers were legal in San Francisco then. This lively and involving historical novel will, with a little booktalking, find an appreciative audience.--Sarah Provence, Churchill Road Elementary School, McLean, VA[Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.