Chieri Uegaki Biography (1969-)
Chieri Uegaki is a Canadian of Japanese heritage who was born and raised in British Columbia. Her picture book Suki's Kimono celebrates a nonconformist attitude and gives spunky young girls of any ethnicity a heroine to emulate. On the first day of school, Suki insists on wearing her beautiful blue kimono to school, because her grandmother gave it to her on a happy day they spent together. Despite the dire warnings of her older sisters—who strive to be cool in the latest fashions—Suki skips to school in her kimono and wooden clogs. At first the sisters' predictions seem to ring true. Other children snicker and tease, and Suki gets plenty of stares. However, the teasing turns to admiration when Suki tells her new class about dancing with her grandmother at a festival. At the end of the day Suki's clothes get noticed, not her sisters'. "This charming book highlights the importance of being ourselves, reflecting what makes us distinctive," Kathryn McNaughton noted in Resource Links. "It also gives children the message that being true to what we value is worthwhile."
Uegaki, a 2000 finalist in the Writers' Union of Canada "Writing for Children" competition, garnered warm reviews for Suki's Kimono. A Kirkus Reviews critic called it "a wonderful story about being yourself, with the added bonus of teaching readers a little about Japanese culture." School Library Journal correspondent Sue Morgan deemed the work "an appealing story of courage and independence." A Publishers Weekly reviewer likewise found the tale "appealing," concluding: "Given the true-to-life character, readers may feel like applauding." To quote Linda Perkins in Booklist, Suki "is a lively, irrepressible girl, who gives new charm to a familiar story line."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 2003, Linda Perkins, review of Suki's Kimono, p. 604.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2003, review of Suki's Kimono.
New York Times Book Review, November 16, 2003, Marigny Dupuy, "The Dog Ate His Pants," p. 46.
Publishers Weekly, November 24, 2003, review of Suki's Kimono, p. 64.
Resource Links, October 1, 2003, Kathryn McNaughton, review of Suki's Kimono.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Sue Morgan, review of Suki's Kimono, p. 129.
Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival, http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/2003/ (June 4, 2004), "Chieri Uegaki."