Chinese New Year: A Celebration for Everyone, by Jen Sookfong Lee, (Jan. 2021, Orca Book Publishers), $12.95, ISBN: 9781459826434
Originally published in hardcover in 2017, Orca’s nonfiction Orca Origins series releases the paperback version of Chinese New Year: A Celebration for Everyone this month, just in time for the Year of the Ox celebrations beginning February 12th. Filled with fast facts, color photos, and quotes from prominent members of the Chinese community, author Jen Sookfong Lee details the history of Chinese New Year from its mythic origins to current-day celebrations, with memories of her own childhood and the childhoods of others adding a personal touch. The emphasis on family, how the holiday evolved from earlier days through upheavals in Chinese history, and how the holiday spread throughout the world give readers an idea of how Chinese New Year achieved such a global scope. Recipes throughout encourage readers – with adult supervision – to try out some New Year treats, and stories about the globalization of the holiday provide an welcome, inclusive invitation for all to enjoy. A glossary and index add to the back matter. A nice addition to holiday collections.
Dragon Dancer, by Joyce Chng/Illustrated by Jérémy Pailler, (Jan. 2018, Lantana Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781911373261
Recommended for readers 4-8
As the Lunar New Year approaches, a Singaporean boy named Yao waits to awaken the sky dragon, Shen Long. When he does, Yao will go on a magical adventure with the dragon, dancing the bad luck of the previous year away, and bringing in the good luck for a prosperous new year.
Originally released in the UK by Lantana Publishing in 2015, Dragon Dancer is a gorgeous book that draws on ancestry, legend, and tradition for Lunar New Year reading. The text pulses with the energy of the dragon dance, the art coming alive from the page as the dragon writhes, corkscrews, and spins away misfortune and welcomes in prosperity. The background pages remain starkly white, allowing the brilliant colors to spring off the page and into readers’ imaginations. The music in the story urges dragon and dancer on, and draws the reader into the narrative: you can feel the drums pounding, the cymbals clashing, the crowds cheering. Yao thinks of his grandfather, hoping for his strength and guidance as he prepares to wake Shen Yao, and the dragon praises his skills as a dragon dancer. A note from the author provides a bit of personal experience of the New Year celebration. This one’s a definite purchase for my holiday collection.