Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, February 8th, 2013

The Year of the Snake slithers in this weekend but have no fear! Ancient Chinese wisdom says a snake in the house is actually a good omen because it means that your family will not starve. The sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, the snake represents wisdom, intelligence and self-control. The snake also represents the ability to strike at will, quickly and powerfully. The Year of Snake promises to be a time of steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for all of us to achieve what we set out to create.

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festival in the Chinese calendar and celebrations take place around the world . What better way to get into the spirit by reading some Chinese New Year children’s books! Here are a few books we’ve blogged about that we would definitely recommend:

Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series by Oliver Chin,

The Great Race / The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson;

The Day the Dragon Danced by Kay Haugaard, illustrated by Carolyn Reed Barritt

Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year by Sally Rippin

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by SallyRippin

Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat by one of my favorite authors Grace Lin. Be sure to visit Grace’s blog t0 read about her plans for bringing in the New Year with  her daughter Rain Dragon and to get some New Year crafts suggestions.

My Mom Is a Dragon and My Dad is a Boar and Hiss! Pop! Boom! by Tricia Morissey

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! written and illustrated by Demi. Read our interview with Demi here and see our gallery of her stunning illustration work here.

And here’s a special kidlit New Year celebration  for those of you who live in San Jose, CA, USA.  Children’s author Oliver Chin will be reading from his new book The Year of the Snake: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, on Feb. 19th at the Joyce Ellington Branch library. Details here.

Paper Tigers from Kirkbymoorside, UK

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

PaperTigers paper tigers - Kirkbymoorside Cubs, UK

Happy New Year!

These are the PaperTigers’ paper tigers I made with my Cub pack last week, when we also talked about Chinese New Year. We read The Great Race by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson (Barefoot Books, 2006) and dipped into Demi‘s wonderful Happy New Year!/ Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai! (Dragonfly Books, 1999), which inspired some of the children to try out some Chinese characters on their tigers.

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To make your own PaperTigers’ paper tiger, click here.

Books at bedtime: two bilingual books from Mantra Lingua…

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Following our library’s recent refurbishment, I was excited to find several bilingual picture-books in the newly-revamped children’s section… I borrowed two and we will definitely be going back for more!

Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella, retold by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Richard Holland (Mantra Lingua, 2006)Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella, retold by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Richard Holland, with a French translation by Annie Arnold (Mantra Lingua, 2006) is familiar but different – there’s no fairy godmother, instead Yeh-Hsien befriends a fish: “she nourished her fish with food and with love, and soon he grew to enormous size.” However, the wicked stepmother kills the fish, cooks it and eats it (this detail gives the story the frisson of horror that is sometimes missing from modern fairy-tale retellings…). The magic fish bones that are left allow Yeh-Hsien to make wishes come true – soon she has enough to eat; and then she is able to conjure up beautiful clothes to go to the Spring Festival… It’s great to have a feisty Cinderella, who has to think and do for herself – and who runs away from the party because her nightmarish step-mother frightens her, not because she forgot the time…

Grandma's Saturday Soup by Sally Fraser, illustrated by Derek Brazell (Mantra Lingua, 2005)Grandma’s Saturday Soup by Sally Fraser and illustrated by Derek Brazell with a Cantonese translation by Sylvia Denham (Mantra Lingua, 2005) is a delightful book – Mimi takes young readers/listeners through her week during a British winter. Everything reminds her of some ingredient in the soup she will be having at Grandma’s house on Saturday (clouds like dumplings, shoots of new growth through the snow like spring onions); and everything also contrasts with the stories Grandma tells of life in Jamaica – (more…)

Gung Hei Fat Choy! – Xin Nian Kuai Le! – Happy New Year!

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

yearoftherat.jpgWelcome, Year of the Rat!

To help you celebrate, here are a couple of new books we can recommend…

Grace Lin has a sequel just out to her delightful Year of the Dog – called, appropriately enough, Year of the Rat. We’ll have our own review of it soon, in the meantime, you can read what Grace herself says about it here.

You can read here about another new book by Grace, this time a picture-book called Bringing in the New Year. At the end of that post, Wild Rose Reader gives some good “Lunar New Year” links too.

And here are some more Chinese New Year picture books reviewed by PaperTigers:
The Year of the Rat: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Miah Alcorn,;
The Great Race / The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson;
The Day the Dragon Danced by Kay Haugaard, illustrated by Carolyn Reed Barritt.

Do you have any special favorites you’d like to share with us?

…And a PS – do have a look at Grace Lin’s blog to read about her trip to China last month – there are some great photos too.

Books at Bedtime: Pablo the Artist

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Pablo the ArtistWe have just returned home from a week in London, exploring the city to dropping point! One place we visited was the National Gallery, where we followed the Chinese Zodiac Trail. We knew which animals to look for from retellings of the legendary selection process, such as The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac. While looking at the paintings, we learnt a great deal about the differences and similarities in the symbolism attached to the animals in Chinese and Western cultures; and Little Brother, who is passionate about dragons, was overjoyed to discover that his birth sign, the Snake, is also known as the Little Dragon!

In the gallery shop afterwards, we found a delightful picture-book called Pablo the Artist by Satoshi Kitamura, which is an enigmatic exploration of the artistic process and where inspiration comes from – I agree with The Magic of Booksreview, where PJ Librarian says “you really aren’t sure at this point if Pablo is dreaming or if these landscape characters are actually real” – it’s one of those books which grows with each re-reading as new details are discovered and absorbed. We especially loved the glimpse of infinity provided at the end, having read The Mouse and His Child so recently, where the picture of the dog carrying a tray with a tin of dog food with the picture of the dog carrying a tray etc. etc. was such a recurrent and pivotal theme.

Not Just for Kids recommends Pablo the Artist and some other picture-books which “introduce young readers to some of the world’s masterpieces”, as does Rhyming Mom.

…And I should just add that Pablo The Artist was one of the picture books nomitated for the 2007 Sakura Awards, which Charlotte highlighted in her last post

Books at Bedtime: anthologies and audio books

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

SunI have just received this lovely e-card from Barefoot Books, which I would like to share with you all – it’s based on their recently-published Whole World, which not only celebrates the world we live in but reminds us that we need to look after it – something that Barefoot Books are really focussing on with their new “Go Barefoot, Go Global” emphasis on environmental issues.

As well as family favourites like The Emperor who Hated Yellow, The Gigantic Turnip and The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac, we love Barefoot Books’ anthologies of stories from around the world. Son Number One has taken The Barefoot Book of Knights out of the library on a regular basis over the last three years. I like its format of the traditional tales being woven into the story of a young steward who is learning to be a knight, although it does sometimes mean reading time goes on for much longer than you intended!

PiratesGenerally, however, these anthologies are great for dipping into or for quenching a child’s thirst for “More, more, more!” without having to resort to carrying around great piles of books – a relief on train or plane journeys… Then, what is really great is that so many of Barefoot’s publications are also available in audio format and can be enjoyed on car journeys too – somehow, no matter how many times you hear them as child or adult, you never get tired of them. At the moment, my children particularly enjoy listening to Animal Tales From Around The World and Pirates (I love the story from Japan about Mochimitsu who is saved by his beautiful music). They like to have the book open too so they can follow the illustrations, which are always so vibrant and full of extra details.

And what about in your family? Which audio books do your children like listening to – and when?