With Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to post about our favorite books celebrating the holiday! There are so many terrific books available! Our library is still a little small and certainly in the “growing” stage, but here is a list of what we like to read during Spring Festival, along with explanations taken from Amazon:
A New Year’s Reunion – “Little Maomao’s father works in faraway places and comes home just once a year, for Chinese New Year. At first Maomao barely recognizes him, but before long the family is happily making sticky rice balls, listening to firecrackers, and watching the dragon dance in the streets below. Papa gets a haircut, makes repairs to the house, and hides a lucky coin for Maomao to find. Which she does! But all too soon it is time for Papa to go away again. This poignant, vibrantly illustrated tale, which won the prestigious Feng Zikai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award in 2009, is sure to resonate with every child who misses relatives when they are away–and shows how a family’s love is strong enough to endure over time and distance.”
The Beast Nian (iTunes e-book) – iTunes doesn’t provide a good summary of this story, so I’ll share my thoughts! Although this is an e-book, I love that it tells the legend of Nian. I haven’t found many books that explain this story, and it’s part of some of the traditions behind Spring Festival. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story tells the legend well. Very young children might not do well with the beginning knowing that Nian is a monster who would sometimes hurt the villagers, but I think it’s probably fine for most children. For $0.99, it’s a bargain and you can listen to a narration in English or Chinese!
Bringing In The New Year – “This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is a bright and gloriously patterned celebration in itself! And her story is tailor-made for reading aloud.”
Celebrate Chinese New Year – “Children have never had so many reasons to learn how Chinese people everywhere ring in the new and ring out the old. Celebrate Chinese New Year is the latest, timely addition to National Geographic’s popular Holidays Around the World series. With 25 colorful images and a simple, educational text, the book is a lively invitation to revel in this child-friendly, national and international holiday. Carolyn Otto brings the historical and cultural aspects of the Chinese New Year into focus, and young readers experience the full flavor of an event celebrated by over a billion people in China, and countless others worldwide.”
The Dancing Dragon – “The Chinese New Year is about to begin. There’s lots to do–tie strings of firecrackers outside, hang up red scrolls, bake special cakes, and sing New Year’s songs. And when family and friends are gathered together, it’s time for the parade to begin. This book folds out to reveal all the color and excitement of a traditional Chinese New Year celebration, complete with dancing dragon!”
Dragon Dance – “It’s Chinese New Year and there are so many fun things to do! Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year’s dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year’s parade! Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book.”
The Great Race – “The Jade Emperor is concerned because his country does not have a calendar, and no one can tell one year from the next. He decides to hold a race across a great river, and the order in which the animals finish will determine the order of the years. The event is exciting as the creatures maneuver for position, only to be bested in the end by the clever Rat. In this retelling of the ancient legend, Casey maintains the pace well. Back matter includes information about the Chinese calendar in general, as well as the more specific Dragon Boat Festival and Moon Festival. The book is a visual treat, with illustrations in simple collage designs on acrylic and painted backgrounds placed in such a way as to keep the eye engaged and moving.”
Sam And The Lucky Money – “It’s Chinese New Year in Chinatown, and young Sam has four dollars of New Year money burning a hole in his pocket. As he and his mother are milling through the crowded streets–alive with firecrackers, lion dances, and shoppers–Sam accidentally steps on the foot of a homeless man who is buried in a pile of red paper. Flustered, Sam hurries back to his mother, and is soon distracted by the char siu bao and other sweets he might buy with his gift money. When he sees fish-tail cookies that remind him of toes, he remembers the old man again, and Sam starts to think of his “lucky money” in a new light.”
The Year Of The Horse (new for us this year) – 2014 is The Year of the Horse! Hannah the horse has a wonderfully talented family and a very special friendship with a boy named Tom, but she wants more than that. She yearns to have special skills like those of her parents and relatives. When Tom offers to take his art teacher s newest painting to the governor in a far off capital, Hannah jumps at the chance to show a little horse can have a lot of courage.
This latest adventure in the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac follows The Year of the Snake (2013), Dragon (2012), Rabbit (2011), Tiger (2010), Ox (2009), Rat (2008), Pig (2007) and Dog (2006). Each book features a unique cast of a dozen creatures. In the Chinese lunar calendar, a special animal represents every year. Each creature symbolizes unique qualities and has a personality that people identify with.