Friday, February 14, 2014

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

Gung Hay Fat Choi

Tomorrow, February 15th, is the last day of Chinese New Year and I thought I would end this year's celebrations with a book that I thought would be relevant for today's world.

In Sam and the Lucky Money, Sam has been give four red envelopes, one from each of his grandparents, each one containing &1.00.  Sam thinks he is quite rich with his $4.00 and is especially happy because this year, his mom said he can buy anything he wants with his fortune.

On the morning of the big New Year parade, Sam and his mom go shopping for all the things they will need to celebrate the New Year at home.  The streets are crowded and busy with people out doing the same things as Sam and mom.  Restless when his mother stops at the vegetable store, Sam started kicking at some piles of red paper nearby.  Suddenly he hears a yelp and he discovers a homeless Chinese man wearing dirty clothes and no shoes or socks despite the cold weather.

But the man is soon forgotten because the next stop is the bakery and Sam thinks about what he can buy there with his Lucky Money - a nice fresh bun,  or maybe a sweet egg tart or some coconut pastries (which happen to be my favorites).  Suddenly there is a noise outside announcing the approach of the colorful, giant Lion doing his dance.  Caught up in the excitement, Sam forgets about the bakery.

After the Lion dance, Sam and his mom go into a new toy store, but everything Sam looks at cost more than $4.00.  Angry and disappointed, Sam complained to his mom about his Lucky Money.  Mom tells him he must learn to appreciate the gifts he is given.  But, the bright sunny day has become overcast and no longer fun.  Along the way, Sam spies the homeless man once again and as his mom hands the man a quarter, Sam sees how grateful he is for the small gift she has given him and Sam suddenly knows exactly what to do with is Lucky Money.  It won't buy shoes, but it will buy socks.

Sam and the Lucky Money is is a wonderful read aloud for kids.  It is not so much about teaching young readers about the Lunar New Year, as it is about helping them to understand the importance of being thankful for what they have.  Besides gratitude, Sam also learns about compassion and generosity.  The nice part about all that is it comes in the form of a lovely story that young readers will no doubt enjoy.

The beautiful realistic illustrations in Sam and the Lucky Money were by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu in bright colorful watercolors, giving the book a feeling of celebration.

This book is recommended for readers age 5+
This book was purchased for my personal library.

The publisher, Lee & Low, offer a wonderful Teacher's Guide for Sam and the Lucky Money complete with age appropriate activities.

Good Luck, Good Health, Good Cheer and Pass a Happy New Year


  1. The book looks colorful and interesting. I like that it has a purpose.

  2. So glad I found you via Kid Lit Blog Hop! What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a wonderful story! And the illustrations look wonderful. Looks like yet another good find Alex. Thanks for sharing on KidLit BlogHop.
    -Reshama @ StackingBooks

  4. Do these illustrators have other books? Their names are familiar. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess


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