Thursday, January 12, 2012

two new picture books for the Chinese New Year

Well, my six year old son is home from school with pink eye, bless his heart.  We have, however, had a wonderful day together, of course with a storytime -  including two books that were recently sent to me by Candlewick Press.

The first one we read is called Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine.   It's about a little boy named Vinson who is getting to know his Chinese grandfather, who has recently arrived for a visit at Vinson's home.  He sees his grandfather doing tia chi in the backyard and wonders why he can't do more COOL stuff, like kicks and punches.  It's sort of embarassing, right?  All that slow moving and standing around?  Slowly, though, Vinson realizes all the cool stuff his Grandfather CAN do - and creates a relationship with him in the process. 

My boy REALLY liked this one.  Twice he lept up from the couch while I was reading because had to try out a tia chi pose.  We talked a bit about Chinese culture as we read, about how you can show respect with a bow and some of the New Years traditions.  I think Vinson and his initial lack of enthusiasm about his grandpa makes him very relate-able - lots of great discussion points in this book. I'd say good for 5+.

The second one we read is A New Year's Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong.  This is a story of a family whose father has to be gone at his work all year, only able to return for a week at the New Year.  I was very interested in this one because of a documentary I saw recently called Last Train Home, about all the millions of people who migrate from the city back to their home villages for the New Year. 

When Papa comes home, it's time for traditions and celebrating - the foods and excitement of his homecoming are beautifully illustrated.  I love, especially, an illustration of the little girl snuggled up in bed between her parents.  It felt so secure and beautiful.  I love how this family is just making it work - that Papa works hard and loves his family, even if he can't be with them all the time.  I think there is a lot of heart in this story, and could be a wonderful resource for children whose families might be in a similar situation.  My boy didn't love it as much as the one about tia chi, of course, but I don't think he is who this was necessarily written for, the text is a bit young for him.   I highly recommend it for 4+, maybe younger if your child has some familiarity with Chinese customs.

note: if you're interested in the content of the books I read, please go to

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Both of those books look beautiful to me.

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