Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Pieling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas

Pieling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas

Pauline Chen
For ages 8 to 10
Bloomsbury , 2007   ISBN: 978-1599901220

Peiling Wang dreads the arrival of the month of December, because with the arrival of December comes Christmas, and all the hoopla that goes with the holiday. Peiling's family does not celebrate Christmas, and not being able to participate in this quintessential American holiday makes Peiling feel very left out and self conscious. She dreads going back to school in the New Year because everyone asks everyone else what they got for Christmas. And, of course, she never gets anything.

Then Peiling's much loved uncle, Samson, comes to the rescue. He advises Peiling to ask her parents for a Christmas celebration. She needs to let them know who she is and what she wants. She cannot live her life being the girl they want her to be.

And so Peiling takes the plunge and asks. Her father's response is explosive and about as negative as one can get. The following day Peiling's father and her mother discuss the Christmas issue again, and Peiling's mother supports Peiling's wish. After all, they have been in America for seven years now. They are American citizens. Celebrating Christmas does not mean that they care less for their Taiwanese traditions.

In the end Baba agrees, and preparations begin for the Wang family to celebrate their first Christmas. Only it does not work out the way Peiling hoped.

This charming story looks what it is like to be a part of a family where Christmas is not a tradition. Peiling wants so much to fit in with her classmates and live the American life. But then she does not want to lose her connection with her family and her Taiwanese roots. This is a problem that generations of new Americans have faced, and it is interesting to see the issue illuminated by the glow of Christmas lights and Hanukkah candles.