It's September 1953, Chinatown, San Francisco, California, and we are entering the world of eight year old Artie, who is constantly teased and picked on by his own family. It's become a family tradition to make Artie sit and play games with cousin Petey so Petey can win and feel good about himself. Artie just can't take it any more one day after Petey accuses him of being "useless" and a "mooch" and he stands up for himself by announcing that at his birthday party he will have so many fireworks he'll give some to everyone there.
Now, these are tough times and Artie doesn't have enough money to buy fireworks for everyone. Luckily for him, he has an Uncle Chester. Uncle Chester is a man who has been down on his luck in life many times and who is also a victim of family teasing. "When are you going to get a job, Chester?" "When are you going to get a wife, Chester?" Artie and Chester begin spending time together and Artie gets to see the deep dimensions of the friendships in Chester's life.
Chester has a generous, happy go lucky spirit and he is liked by many shopkeepers...one young lady in particular. The story is interwoven with Chinese traditions and feels like an inside peek at a closely held private world. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. Everyone deserves respect. But are there really happy endings? The tension slowly mounts as we get closer and closer to Artie's birthday and his chances of telling off Petey look bleak. How can Artie get enough money in these difficult times to make those fireworks come true?
102 pages 978-0060253158 Ages 8-11
Keywords: teasing, bullying, family, relatives, Asian culture, Chinese New Year, birthdays, understanding others, Asian American author, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, standing up for yourself
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
If only Artie had kept his mouth shut.
But his mean cousin Petey was putting him down, so Artie started bragging.
Now he has to come up with enough money to buy firecrackers for all his cousins by the Lunar New Year.
Luckily, there's one person he can count on . . . Uncle Chester!
Newbery Honor Book author Laurence Yep celebrates family and Chinese New Year traditions in this story of a boy and his uncle who discover that age doesn't matter when it comes to helping out a friend.---from the publisher