Henry's First-Moon Birthday

Overview

Jenny's baby brother Henry is having his one-month birthday ? his first-moon, as it's called in Chinese. And even though Jenny's sure he doesn't deserve it ? all Henry does is sleep, eat, and cry ? there's a big celebration planned for him. Together, Jenny and her grandma get everything ready, from dyeing eggs a lucky red to preparing pigs' feet and ginger soup. And someday, when Henry's old enough to appreciate all her hard work, Jenny will tell him how lucky he was to have her...

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Overview

Jenny's baby brother Henry is having his one-month birthday — his first-moon, as it's called in Chinese. And even though Jenny's sure he doesn't deserve it — all Henry does is sleep, eat, and cry — there's a big celebration planned for him. Together, Jenny and her grandma get everything ready, from dyeing eggs a lucky red to preparing pigs' feet and ginger soup. And someday, when Henry's old enough to appreciate all her hard work, Jenny will tell him how lucky he was to have her in charge.
The childlike charm of Lenore Look's story is perfectly captured in Yumi Heo's naïve illustrations, which give readers the impression that Jenny drew them herself.

A young girl helps her grandmother with preparations for the traditional Chinese celebration to welcome her new baby brother.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jenny's brother is having his one-month birthday, which the Chinese call his first moon. She can't understand the fuss and attention, but she has lots of fun working with GninGnin (grandmother) preparing the traditional foods (dyed red eggs for luck, pigs feet and ginger soup). Jenny is a good girl but never one to miss a chance for a little fun or harmless mischief. Jenny will miss her GinnGinn when she goes home the next day but she looks forward to telling her little brother all about the work they did for his big day. The delightful illustrations by Yni Heo look like something kids could draw and would post on the refrigerator to share with the family. 2001, Atheneum, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-In this cheerful, intergenerational story about a Chinese-American family, Jenny's baby brother is having his first-moon (one month) birthday party. Even though she doesn't believe that he deserves the fuss (all he does is sleep, eat, and cry), Jenny and her GninGnin prepare delicacies like pigs' feet and ginger soup and dyed red eggs for good luck. With pen and ink, they write Henry's Chinese name and good-luck words on red cloth in calligraphy for everyone to read. While her grandmother is cooking, the girl gets into mischief, drawing a spaceship and dinosaur on the floor in ink. Mother cleans like a tornado; Baba fixes the car and picks up her grandfather and the favorite Grandaunties for the party. Jenny and her cousins eat, jump on the beds, and peek into Henry's red gift envelope. When all is done, GninGnin praises her granddaughter, who reflects on the day, deciding that baby Henry is not so bad after all and that one day, he will be glad that she was in charge of his party. Lively, childlike illustrations are rendered in pencil, oil, and collage and emphasize the frantic pace of party preparations. The Matisselike art comes to life through the use of patterns and interestingly shaped objects. Figures are drawn as if by Jenny herself. All in all, the busy pages capture perfectly the happy mood and bustle of Henry's first-moon birthday.-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville Public Schools, Parlin, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Baby Henry is celebrating his one-month birthday, with everyone in his Chinese-American family making extensive preparations for the festivities, especially his big sister, Jenny, and their grandmother, Gnin-Gnin. Look (Love as Strong as Ginger, 1999) tells the story in present tense with Jenny as the narrator describing all the special foods and decorations, guests, and presents that make the traditional celebration part of her family heritage. Her grandmother skillfully involves Jenny in all the preparations and gives her the extra dose of love any new big sister needs. The story is rather flighty and episodic, but since a bright, take-charge little girl is the narrator, perhaps that is just realistic fiction. Heo's (Yoshi's Feast, 2000, etc.) delightfully naïve illustrations perpetuate the notion that Jenny is in charge of this story, both in words and in pictures, and the flat perspective and whirling background details of the pencil, oil, and collage illustrations offer a cheery, child-like view of Jenny's world. Bright, colorful, busy, and jumpy (just like real life in any happy household with a healthy newborn), this story will be of special interest to Chinese-American families and to parents of adopted Chinese children, but has universal appeal. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689822940
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 813,366
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lenore Look

Lenore Look is the author of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, an ALA Notable Book; Love As Strong As Ginger, illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Stephen T. Johnson; and Henry's First-Moon Birthday, illustrated by Yumi Heo. She lives in Randolph, New Jersey.

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