Monday, January 22, 2007

Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding

Look, Lenore. 2006. UNCLE PETER’S AMAZING CHINESE WEDDING. Ill. by Yumi Heo. New York: Atheneum ISBN 0689844581 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

This sequel to HENRY’S FIRST-MOON BIRTHDAY gives readers another peek into the traditions of a Chinese-American family. This time, Jenny’s story centers on her favorite uncle’s impending wedding. Uncle Peter--“the coolest dude, a girl’s best buddy”--seems destined to forget about Jenny when he marries Stella. In the midst of her family’s joyous celebration, Jenny finds herself consumed with jealousy and grief.

Jenny’s feelings of insecurity and loss transcend culture, but cultural outsiders will find the rich detail about customs associated with a Chinese wedding fascinating. The uniquely Chinese gifts, the ride to pick up the bride, the tea ceremony, the surprising bed-jumping ceremony and Stella’s repeated changes of dress are interwoven with more familiar American customs, like toasting, dancing and throwing the bouquet. Eventually, Stella offers Jenny a special gift and an important responsibility before thanking her for sharing her amazing uncle. Readers will celebrate with Jenny as she hugs her new Aunt Stella in the story’s reassuring conclusion.

Yumi Heo’s illustrations, a mixture of oil, pencil and collage, bring the festivities to life in riotous color. Beautifully portraying Jenny’s evolving emotions, the Korean born artist includes varied patterns in backgrounds and in the character’s clothing that come together like ornate needlework.

After sharing personal wedding stories, list some familiar wedding traditions and then list some traditions included in Uncle Peter’s wedding. Create a Venn diagram to represent the relationship between these observations.

Other books featuring weddings:
Henkes, Kevin. LILLY’S BIG DAY. ISBN 0060742364
Johnson, Angela. WEDDING. ISBN 0531301397
Wojcieschowsky, Susan. BEANY AND THE DREADED WEDDING. ISBN 0763625698

By Suzy Parchman

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