Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads

Bowls of Happiness is a lovely introduction to Chinese culture!

bowls-of-happiness-9780989377645_lgBowls of Happiness, by Brian Tse/Illustrated by Alice Mak (translated by Ben Wang), (Nov. 2015, Simon & Schuster), $12.95, ISBN: 9780989377645

Recommended for ages 3-8

Part short story, part discussion of Chinese art and culture, Bowls of Happiness tells us a short story about Piggy, a little girl whose mother loves her so much that she makes a special porcelain bowl just for her. As her mother creates the bowl, Piggy finds herself in the world being painted on the bowl’s exterior, learning about the animals and artwork that adorn the bowl and many other bowls in Chinese culture. Accompanied by photographs of porcelain artwork found in the Palace Museum’s collection, Bowls of Happiness is a beautiful introduction for young readers to Chinese culture. Brian Tse and Alice Mak, two well-known children’s book artists, create a story with artwork reminiscent of beautiful watercolor paintings, with a sweet story about maternal love that adults and kids alike will enjoy. A concluding poem about two palms coming together to form a bowl is a perfect way to end a storytime, and a sweet way to say goodnight at the end of the day (my 3 year-old loves it).

Have your little readers draw bowls of their own as a fun add-on to extend the story. Give them a cheat sheet on symbolism in Chinese art so they can apply the story to their art!


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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