cover image Henry's First-Moon Birthday

Henry's First-Moon Birthday

Lenore Look. Atheneum Books, $18.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82294-0

Look's (Love as Strong as Ginger) buoyant picture book invites readers to peek at a Chinese-American family's preparations for a very special party. Older Sister (aka ""Jen, Jenny, but never Jennifer""), who professes to be the lady of the house, rises early with GninGnin (""never Grandmother or Granny or Grandma"") to get ready for brother Henry's first-moon, or one-month birthday. While the rest of the family sleeps, GninGnin and Jen bustle about cooking traditional Chinese dishes (pigs' feet and ginger soup, eggs dyed a lucky red) and writing good-luck messages in ""ink, the real stuff, which GninGnin makes by rubbing an ink pebble with a little water."" Soon, Mother joins the team and ""cleans like a tornado going through every room."" At last, GninGnin and Jen put on their favorite dresses and celebrate with visiting relatives. Jen is an entertaining narrator, a plucky helper filled with a refreshing confidence in her important role in the family. Through her eyes and her childlike, evocative descriptions readers learn more about Chinese culture as well as enjoy a warm, gently humorous story with universal themes. Heo (Yoshi's Feast) matches Jen's perky wit with her whimsical perspectives and energetic pencil-oil-collage compositions. Characters with smiling faces and happy eyes that ""look like commas"" and tender scenes between family members convey joy on every page. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)