Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Rating: 5 stars

Bottom line up front: this is the best explanation of Chinese New Year that we've found.  I'm curious if there are other books people have found to explain the holiday, one that is mostly foreign to us but one that we're very curious about.

Ever since we read The Runaway Wok a few weeks ago, Lorelei has been very curious about Chinese New Year.  I'm super excited about her interest in anything cultural--as a former Peace Corps Volunteer I'm all about introducing cultures other than our family's American, Polish, Cajun cultures.  I've found a place to take her on 12 February, so I'm hoping she doesn't get freaked out by the loud drums and fireworks.  But you never know until you try! 

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
 Anyway, back to the book, which is one of the Chinese New Year books on our shelf to help prepare us for our little field trip.  Karen Katz's books are simple; every time I read them I wonder why I didn't think of that.  But they're also sweet, and the drawings are just the same--simple and sweet. 

But this one is a more than simple and sweet--it's actually a really great introduction to Chinese New Year because it outlines all the different customs within the holiday--customs like sweeping your house (to get the bad spirits out), decorating the walls with red paper (for good luck), purchasing plum and quince blossoms (to remind us new things can grow), and getting your hair cut (to start the year all fresh and new).  There's lots more packed in there, too, and each custom has an illustration to match that helps explain the custom, visually, to the little readers.

If you're a teacher, My First Chinese New Year is a great educational tool.  Karen Katz also has written My First Ramadan and My First Kwanzaa, too, in case you're looking for a complete, introductory set to lesser known holidays!

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