Happy Chinese New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choi! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Happy Chinese New Year 2015 from Mirrors Windows Doors

Gung Hay Fat Choi! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy Year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat!

So how are you celebrating? Here are some of my favourite children’s books for Chinese New Year:

The Year of the Sheep, the latest in Oliver Chin’s great Tales of the Zodiac series – featuring a new illustrator, Alina Chau (Immedium, 2015) – and do read my recent interview with Oliver.

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008) has become a bit of a children’s classic – as have Demi’s Happy New Year! Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai! and Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! (Crown Books for Young Readers, 1997 and 2003).

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac written by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Anne Wilson (Barefoot Books, 2006), and The Race for the Chinese Zodiac Black Dog Books (Australia), 2011; Walker Books (UK), 2012; Candlewick Press (US), 2013 )written by Gabrielle Wang and illustrated and designed by Sally Rippin and Regine Abos are both great retellings of the myth of the race that gives the Chinese zodiac its animals and their order – and both sets of illustrations are very different, each enhancing the story in their own special way.

The Dragon New Year: A Chinese Legend written by David Bouchard and sumptuously illustrated by Zhong-Yang Huang is a different legend for New Year, more suited to slightly older readers – David Bouchard explains that he concocted the story after hearing part of the legend from a school boy in West Vancouver, who couldn’t remember the end of the story. Bouchard took it from there… You can read a recent full review over at the Family-Ship Experience, and Crafty Moms Share also featured it earlier this month with lots of Chinese New Year craft ideas (and don’t miss out on her amazing book giveaway!).

This Next New Year (Frances Foster, 2000) written in poetic prose, if I can call it that, by Janet S. Wong and beautifully illustrated by Yangsook Choi is an all-round delight. A half-Korean boy describes his experience of Chinese New Year and his determination to clean and scrub to get rid of all the bad luck and make ready for all the good luck he knows is coming…

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin (Little, Brown & Co., 2006) brings Chinese New Year alive for middle-grade readers – much of it based on Grace’s own childhood (and there are also its sequels Year of the Rat (2008) and Dumpling Days (2012) so readers don’t need to feel too bereft when they get to the end).

Three books I’m keeping an eye open for, as well, are Sheep Beauty by Li Jian (Tuttle, 2014), Long Long’s New Year by Catherine Gower and He Zhihong (Tuttle, 2005) and Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009)… The first two are included in that giveaway I mentioned…

However you celebrate, I wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year. I must post this now, as delicious Chinese cooking smells are wafting upstairs!

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