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Look, Lenore

Look, Lenore

Personal

Born in Seattle, WA. Education: Princeton University, bachelor's degree, 1984.

Career

Journalist and author. Worked as a journalist for L.A. Times, and Trenton Times, Trenton, NJ.

Awards, Honors

Notable Book for Children selection, Smithsonian magazine, 2001, for Henry's First-Moon Birthday; Manoa Award for Best American Essays, 2001, for "Facing the Village"; Notable Resources selection, Young-Adult Library Services Association, 2007, for both Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding and Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything.

Writings

Love as Strong as Ginger, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1999.

Henry's First-Moon Birthday, illustrated by Yumi Heo, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2001.

Ruby Lu, Brave and True, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2004.

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2006.

Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, illustrated by Yumi Heo, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of essays and articles to Princeton Alumni Weekly, Publishers Weekly, and Race and Races: Cases for a Diverse America.

Adaptations

Henry's First-Moon Birthday was adapted for videocassette.

Sidelights

Author Lenore Look draws on her experiences growing up as a Chinese American, as well as those as an American visiting China, to tell stories that balance the ideas of individuality and tradition. Each of her picture books "emphasizes its main character's attempt to achieve a healthy balance between independence and connection to family, often through traditions such as the celebration of first-moon birthdays and adherence to the elaborate Chinese wedding ceremony rules," wrote April Spisak in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books online. Along with her picture books, Look is also the author of the "Ruby Lu" chapter-books, where readers can follow the adventures of enigmatic protagonist Ruby and her cousin and kindred spirit, Flying Duck.

Look's first picture book, Love as Strong as Ginger, draws on memories of the author's grandmother, who worked in a factory in Seattle during the 1960s and 1970s. Set in that era, the story focuses on the relationship between young Katie and her grandmother, GninGnin, and Katie's understanding of the hard work GninGnin must perform in order to earn a living. "The words are simple. The facts are stark," wrote Hazel Rochman in her Booklist review, concluding that Love as Strong as Ginger "is a fine addition to the realistic stories of coming to America." A Horn Book critic called the book a "powerfully felt evocation of the dreams that can sustain one generation with hope of a better life for the next." While Look "doesn't flinch from describing the harsh conditions … her story fo-

cuses on the strength and dreams of the women who work there," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor of the work, which features illustrations by Stephen T. Johnson.

Henry's First-Moon Birthday and Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding both follow Jen's struggles to deal with the changes occurring in her life. In Henry's First-Moon Birthday Jen helps prepare for her baby brother's one-month birthday celebration and, although feeling jealous that the baby receives all the attention, realizes by day's end that he will one day be glad she was in charge of his party. "Jen's chatty narration infuses the book with … cozy immediacy," wrote Gillian Engberg in Booklist. Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding finds Jen once again jealous, this time because Uncle Peter's fiancée is taking all her usually doting uncle's attention. Initially intending to disrupt the celebration, Jen changes her plans after she is invited to help coordinate wedding plans by both bride and groom. As Jennifer Mattson noted in her Booklist review, "references to Chinese traditions emerge naturally throughout," giving readers an insight into Chinese-American culture. Though a Publishers Weekly critic also noted the cultural appeal of the book, the reviewer added that the real draw comes from Jen's narrative voice: "With her true-to-life voice, Jen conveys real feeling."

Ruby Lu, almost eight years old, has her first adventure in Ruby Lu, Brave and True. With a mother who studies Chinese fan dancing, a dad who loves board games, and a mischievous little brother named Oscar, Ruby's family life is as important to her story as her time at Chinese school. Considered "plucky" by a Publishers Weekly critic and "refreshingly feisty" by a contributor to School Library Journal, Look's protagonist fills "the need for a recurring Asian American character," according to Booklist contributor Terry Glover. Debbie Stewart, writing in School Library Journal, called Ruby Lu, Brave and True "funny and charming," adding that a favorite magic trick of Ruby's is featured in flip-book format on the corner pages. Look also provides a glossary, enabling readers to research terms related to Chinese culture.

Ruby's cousin Flying Duck is visiting from China in Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything. Although she immediately feels a kinship with her cousin, the changes the boy brings to the Lu household make her feel out of place: the family begins to speak Cantonese at home and eats with chopsticks. When Flying Duck teaches Oscar Chinese sign language and begins to understand the toddler faster than does Ruby, the girl's jealously peaks. Ruby is "as spunky as Ramona and as moody as Judy," according to Horn Book critic Jennifer M. Brabander, comparing Look's heroine to the beloved fictional heroines of Beverly Cleary and Megan McDonald respectively. "Ruby Lu invites readers into a contemporary world that honors differences while ultimately celebrating universal moments of childhood," wrote Julie

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

R. Ranelli in her School Library Journal review of Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything.

Although Look covers a variety of themes in both her picture books and chapter books, Spisak found a unifying factor: "It's clear that her books reflect her own understanding," she wrote of Look's work in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books online, "and yet with their focus on home, family, and culture they manage to be universal as well as personal."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Love as Strong as Ginger, p. 443; April 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Henry's First-Moon Birthday, p. 1470; January 1, 2002, review of Henry's First-Moon Birthday, p. 768; January 1, 2004, Terry Glover, review of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, p. 878; Decem- ber 15, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, p. 47; February 15, 2006, Cindy Dobrez, review of Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, p. 104.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2004, Karen Coats, review of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, p. 336; January, 2006, Elizabeth Bush, review of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, p. 215; May, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, p. 410.

Childhood Education, winter, 2001, Debora Wisneski, review of Henry's First-Moon Birthday, p. 111, annual, 2006, Lea Lee, review of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, p. 303.

Horn Book, May, 1999, review of Love as Strong as Ginger, p. 318; May-June, 2006, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, p. 322.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, p. 1277; March 1, 2006, review of Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, p. 234.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1999, review of Love as Strong as Ginger, p. 79; April 9, 2001, review of Henry's First-Moon Birthday, p. 73; January 19, 2004, review of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, p. 76; December 5, 2005, review of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, p. 54.

School Library Journal, July, 1999, Margaret A. Change, review of Love as Strong as Ginger, p. 76; June, 2001, Alice Casey Smith, review of Henry's First-Moon Birthday, p. 126; February, 2004, Debbie Stewart, review of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, p. 116; March, 2005, Kathleen T. Isaacs, review of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, p. 68; January, 2006, Maura Bresnahan, review of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, p. 106; July, 2006, Julie R. Ranelli, review of Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything.

ONLINE

Asian American Books Web site,http://www.asianamericanbooks.com/ (April 28, 2007), "Lenore Look."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Online,http://bccb.lis.uiuc.edu/ (April 28, 2007), April Spisak, "Rising Star: Lenore Look."

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