Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

When my kiddo was around 10, she developed an interest in Chinese myths.  That interest grew and soon included food, culture and language.  So, one bitter cold Sunday, we took the subway down to Chinatown in NYC to see the Dragon Parade welcoming in the Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year.  What an exciting day that was - we ate dumplings, sticky rice cakes and drank lots of tea, watched the dragon wake up and just enjoyed the day out despite the 20°F temperature.  Next thing I knew, kiddo was finished with college, spoke fluent Mandarin and off to China.

The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is a real family celebration and nothing exemplifies that more that Grace Lin's Bringing in the New Year.  This sweet introduction to this holiday, aimed at preschoolers, is as colorful and cheerful as the celebrations themselves.

There are lots of traditions surrounding the New Year, and Lin gives a wonderful overview of these.  There is sweeping out the old year (similar to spring cleaning), hanging up the happiness poems and bringing in the lions to scare away the bad luck from the old year, all depicted in bright, happy colors, but with red predominating - red is the color of luck or good fortune.

I liked Bringing in the New Year a lot, except I wish Lin had included somewhere the meanings of the words she used for family members - Jie Jie means big sister, Mei Mei is little sister, Ba Ba means daddy.  Whenever I read this book to kids, they think they are Chinese names, not family designations, even though they are commonly used.  Other than that, this is a perfect beginner book for kids to start learning about and appreciating the Lunar New Year.

This book is recommended for readers age 3+
This book was purchased for my personal library

Oh yes, according to the Lunar calendar, this is the Year of the Snake, the Water Snake, to be exact.


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