The Star Maker

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing from his rich cache of childhood memories, Yep (The Dragon's Child) offers an affectionate celebration of family, cultural traditions, and San Francisco's Chinatown in the early 1950s. Like his beloved, bighearted Uncle Chester, eight-year-old Artie is the youngest of his generation, and both are used to getting an earful ("All the ‘grown-ups' want to do is pick on me," Uncle Chester jokes). Constantly belittled by his cousin Petey, Artie boasts that he'll have so many firecrackers on Chinese New Year that he'll "give them away" to family members. Uncle Chester promises to help Artie keep his pledge, but as the holiday approaches, this seems unlikely: Uncle Chester loses money at the racetrack and can't find work, and Artie, counting on his uncle, has spent his savings. Yep skillfully portrays the significance and emotional nature of common childhood dramas, from fears of going back on one's word to worries of losing a favorite uncle to a new girlfriend. Though Artie and Chester shine brightest, Yep has crafted other memorable characters, including Chinatown itself, which sparkles with energy and camaraderie. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews

In the way that young children often do, when pressed by his bullying older cousin Petey 8-year-old Artie boasts that he'll provide the whole family with firecrackers for the upcoming Chinese New Year.Firecrackers are expensive, and he quickly regrets the promise, but Petey won't let him forget it. Uncle Chester, like Artie, is the youngest of his generation and has also been the target of a little bullying. He has yet to achieve financial independence, wasting too much time and money betting on horses and enjoying the camaraderie of a vividly depicted 1950s-era San Francisco Chinatown. Chester tries to help Artie out by spending time with him, but he also begins to enjoy the company of a young female shopkeeper, a relationship the child at first regards jealously but then accepts because of its positive effect on his beloved uncle. Reminiscent of Tomie dePaola's 26 Fairmount Avenue books, this brief tale tenderly portrays a large, loving extended family and presents a rich multicultural theme and an engaging plot for middle-to-upper–elementary readers.(Historical fiction. 8-12)

Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Set in the 1950s, this is a story of a Chinese boy named Artie who lives with his parents and older brother, Harry in San Francisco's Chinatown. All of his relatives live there as well, so holidays and birthdays are always big celebrations. Because he is constantly being teased by Harry and his cousins Artie does not enjoy these very much. Even more of a problem is his cousin Petey, a mean and often ill-tempered boy who always made Artie the target of cruel remarks and actions. The whole family likes Uncle Chester because of his generous, friendly and helpful character. Artie loves him best of all and appreciates his aid against bullying by Petey. After being goaded by Petey into promising to buy fireworks for all the youngsters in the extended family for the celebration of Chinese New Year, Artie asks Uncle Chester for help. Artie does earn some money by doing odd jobs, but because of Uncle Chester's promise, he spends it for comics and treats. Artie and his uncle spend a lot of time together and he soon perceives that Chester also feels like an outsider. As a result, they become even closer. With the New Year festivities drawing ever nearer, Artie really begins to worry about how he will get the fireworks even though Uncle Chester continues to reassure him that everything will be fine. Of course, all ends well and the fireworks are a huge success. Since the problem of bullies is at the forefront in many schools and the community, this title belongs in every collection for young readers. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Who hasn't made a foolishly extravagant promise and lived to regret it? Set in the 1950s in San Francisco, this story begins at a family celebration. Eight-year-old Artie is the youngest of his generation, and his older brother and one of his cousins won't let him forget it. He's always selected last, picked on most, and generally gets the least recognition from his relatives. When Artie is goaded into bragging that he knows so much about fireworks that he'll have enough to give away, Petey tricks him into saying that he'll provide enough for the whole family for Chinese New Year. Artie's uncle, Chester, the youngest of his generation, empathizes, and offers to help Artie out. The narrative is largely about Artie's relationship with his uncle, who helps him keep his word, and Artie helps Chester get his priorities in order. It's a wonderful family story about expectations and responsibility but it's done with a light and tender touch and is steeped in both Chinese and San Franciscan culture. While the plot is engaging and relatable, the novel might be too challenging for the youngsters initially drawn to the cover, and middle school readers might dismiss it as too babyish. Grace Lin's The Year of the Dog (Little, Brown, 2006) is an easier read with similar subject matter and characters. Yep addresses the dicey idea of giving fireworks to children by providing an introduction explaining that this story is based on his own memories, and that firecrackers were legal in San Francisco then. This lively and involving historical novel will, with a little booktalking, find an appreciative audience.—Sarah Provence, Churchill Road Elementary School, McLean, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060253158
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/21/2010
  • Pages: 100
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.76 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.

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