cover image The Star Maker

The Star Maker

Laurence Yep, Harper, $15.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-06-025315-8

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.)