Chinese New Year

The Great Race
The story of the Chinese Zodiac
By Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson
(Barefoot Books)
This traditional story tells how the years of the Chinese calendar came to be named after animals. When the Jade Emperor organises a great race to decide which animal will be matched with each year, Rat persuades Ox to help him and betrays Cat at the same time. The story ends with the first Chinese New Year celebrations so it fits well with this time of year.
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Long-Long’s New Year
by Catherine Gower, illustrated by He Zhihong
(Frances Lincoln)
A story set in a part of semi-rural China where cycles are the only form of transport and sellers squat or stand by the roadside to sell their wares. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, Long-Long, stowed among Grandpa’s cabbages in the bike trailer, rides to the town for the
first time. There Grandpa hopes to sell his cabbages and make enough money for the family’s Spring Festival food. Disaster strikes in the form of a puncture but the resourceful Long-Long turns the situation into opportunity and does his bit to ensure that Grandpa has plenty of customers and makes all the money they need.
He Zhihong’s illustrations painted on traditional yellow rice paper draw the reader into the bustle and activity of the market – fruit and vegetable sellers, the butchers and fish mongers, the cloth and toy stalls, and the outdoor restaurants where you can almost smell the steaming vats of delicious noodles, not to mention the colour, excitement and firecrackers of the dragon parade.
On the final double spread we learn the origins of the Spring Festival  and and there are some Chinese words and characters from the story. Altogether an absorbing read.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Lanterns and Firecrackers
by Jonny Zucker , illustrated by Jan Barger Cohen
(Frances Lincoln)
A child narrator tells in simple straightforward language how she and her family prepare for and celebrate the Chinese New Year. She mentions the kitchen god, fire crackers, new clothes, lucky money envelopes, feasting, dragon and lion dances and lanterns. These things and others are shown in Jan Berger Cohen’s attractive illustrations; and there is a final double spread for adults giving additional details and explanations relating to the festival.
A very useful book for sharing with 3 to 6s and a possible starting point for some creative activities and of course, discussion
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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by Leonie Pratt
This colourful book on China looks at the history of the country as well as life there today, and it includes a double page spread on Chinese New Year. The easy-to-read text makes the information accessible without talking down to the reader so this book is suitable for older weaker readers as well as primary age children.
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