While the rest of her Chinese American family celebrates the nuptials of Stella and Peter, the book's narrator, Jenny, is decidedly unhappy at what she fears is the loss of her uncle, "a girl's best buddy." In detailing her reaction to the big day's events, she explains Chinese traditions such as children's accompanying the groom to pick up the bride (for good luck), the tea ceremony "where the family officially welcomes the bride" (which Jenny, who's six or so, almost manages to sabotage), and the banquet and its array of treats and symbolic delicacies like long-life noodles. In the end, lovely Stella saves a special task for her new niece and thanks the little girl for "sharing [her] amazing uncle." Just the words Jenny needed to hear!
With big, round faces, kissy lips, and a flat kids-drawing perspective, Yumi Heo's illustrations cleverly reflect the book's child-centered point of view. The humor in both the art and the storytelling makes for a good read-aloud, too. If I were an elementary-school teacher, I'd add this one to the classroom library pronto.
The Cooperative Children's Book Center includes Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding on the recently revised list "50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know." While "should know" is always an opinion (well-informed in CCBC's case), I find that the helpful list provides a lot of fuel for thought. I missed a number of the books on the first go-round, too, and am glad to catch up. CCBC recommends Look and Heo's picture book for children aged 5 to 7.
Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding. Written by Lenore Look and illustrated by Yumi Heo. Anne Schwartz/Atheneum, 2006.