Chinese Zodiac and Chinese New Year Book Reviews

 Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of these books free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. They also sent me a copy to giveaway! As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Chinese New Year Blog Series and Giveaway. More details about all of this below including the giveaway!!
Seal Nakhon Si Thammarat

Seal Nakhon Si ThammaratBy Fine Arts Department (กรมศิลปากร) of Thailand. 

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Chinese Zodiac is a twelve year system. Each year is represented by an animal and each animal has specific characteristics that are suppose to represent the person born in that year. This year I thought I would focus a bit on the Chinese Zodiac. I e-mailed my contact at Tuttle Publishing and asked her for some books and she sent me four great books having to do with the Chinese New Year. Each of these four books are available in the giveaway as well as All About China and A Little Mandarin CD both of which I have reviewed previously and a monkey drum which is pictured below.

Our first book is Chinese Zodiac Animals by Sanmu Tang.  This is a wonderful book that talks about the Chinese Zodiac Animals and then goes through each one giving the following for people born under the sign: characteristics, advice, profession suggestions, financial matters, lucky color and which other signs with whom they will best get along. There is also a table of dates for each animals years. This year is the Year of the Sheep (some say Ram or Goat since the Chinese word is similar for all three). The sheep is docile and compassionate and has an inner strength. They can be pessimistic and are not always good at handling setbacks. They are highly creative and therefore good at art, advertising, the beauty business to name a few of the suggested careers. Hazel and I really enjoyed reading about each animal. We especially liked reading about the ones each person in our family is. One thing I liked best about this book is that in the tables of years they actually have the month and day of the year that the year started and ended. Since the lunar new year changes dates each year it is more accurate than just the list of the years like I have seen at Chinese restaurants. With Steven's birthday in the beginning of February, it actually made a difference. For even more on the Chinese Zodiac check out China Highlights.

 Our next book has to do with this year being the year of the sheep. It is The Sheep Beauty by Li Jian. Li Jian also wrote the version of Mulan we shared from Tuttle Publishing. Since they are by the same author and translator they have very similar looks. They are also both in English and Chinese. This is one of Hazel's favorite books. When I brought it in to read to her again she was very excited and told me she loves this one. (We read them all when we first got them in January and reread them last week.) In this beautiful story a kind doctor sees an injured sheep on the road. He tends to the sheep and brings it home to heal. His family takes great care of the sheep. Around the time the doctor is ready to set the sheep back to the wild, a monster comes and threatens the village. The monster wants each family to give him one child to eat. The villagers do not know what to do. The sheep turns into a beautiful girl and says she will take care of it. She does or at least thinks she does. She goes back to the villagers saying it is handled and the villagers ask her to stay, but she says she needs to leave. She turns back into a sheep and starts to leave, but the monster returns and goes to eat the first person he sees and the sheep saves the village. One thing I like and do not like about the book is that the monster looks like a tiger. I don't want Hazel to think that tigers will demand to eat children, but I love the fact that she did not get scared of the monster pictures. In fact we talked about how it looked like a tiger, because she brought it up. It is truly a lovely story and Hazel really loved it.
Our next book is Long-Long's New Year by Catherine Gower and He Zhihong. This is another beautifully illustrated book with such a sweet story. Long-Long is going to thetown for the first time. He and his grandfather have been caring for the cabbage for awhile now and want to sell them at the market to have money to buy the things the family needs for the Spring Festival. Long-Long has never seen so many people and is fascinated by it all. His grandfather pops a tire of his bicycle, so while he sets up shop he sends Long-Long to get the tire fixed. Long-Long has a wonderful adventure in the town. He even earns a yuan (a Chinese coin). There is a struggle to get the cabbage sold because of another sneaky cabbage vendor, but Long-Long helps save the day. Then when it comes time for him to spend his money including money his grandfather has given him to buy himself something he buys gifts for his mother and sister. Throughout the story there is a kindness and compassion. I really loved this story and enjoyed reading it. The pictures are beautiful as well. It also shares so many aspects of the Spring Festival or New Year in China.

Our final book is Celebrating the Chinese New Year by Sanmu Tang. This is another sweet story that is perfect for introducing the Chinese New Year. Little Mei wants to know why they celebrate the Chinese New Year. She asks her siblings and her parents but does not think they have the right answers. Their answers were about the money in the red envelopes, the new clothes, the dumplings, and the fireworks. She asks her grandmother who tells her to ask her grandfather since he will have a story to tell her. His story is about a monster named Xi and Nian, the grandson of Shennong, a legendary leader and cultural hero. In his story it is explained why they hang red banners, eat nian cake (sticky cake) and light firecrackers at the Spring Festival. It is also explained that the first day of the year is called xin (new) nian and the last day is called chu (getting rid of) xi. The pictures are sweet and simple. It is such a sweet book with a story that explains and introduces so much of the Chinese New Year. 

For more Chinese New Year Ideas check out:

Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs
This post is part of the Chinese New Year series and giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Enter our giveaway to win one of these great prize packages, and don't forget to link up your own posts about Chinese New Year on our main page!
Giveaway begins Jan. 21 and goes through midnight ET on March 5, 2015. Enter below for a chance to win! Remember you can make a comment on the blog post of a different co-host each day for an additional entry.

First Prize Package

All About China
From Tuttle Publishing, All About China: Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.
Long-Long's New Year
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Long-Long's New Year, a beautifully illustrated picture book about a little Chinese boy named Long-Long, who accompanies his grandfather into the city to sell cabbages in order to buy food and decorations for the New Year. Selling cabbages is harder than Long-Long expects, and he encounters many adventures before he finds a way to help his grandfather, and earn New Year's treats for his mother and little cousin.
A Little Mandarin
From A Little Mandarin, a CD featuring a collection of Chinese children’s classics – songs loved by families in China for generations – given new life with a contemporary sound and voice. The 15 tracks fuse rock, pop, dance, ska, and hip hop influences with playful lyrics to make it a unique and fun learning companion for all ages. Featured on Putumayo Kids Presents World Sing-Along.

Second Prize Package

US shipping only
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
From Tuttle Publishing, Celebrating the Chinese New Year, in which Little Mei's grandfather tells her the stories of Nian and the monster Xi for Chinese New Year.
The Sheep Beauty
Also from Tuttle Publishing, The Sheep Beauty, which brings to life the kindness and generosity of those born under the sign of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac.
Chinese Zodiac Animals
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Chinese Zodiac Animals, a fun and informative way to learn about the ancient Chinese Zodiac, explaining the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.
Monkey Drum
From Tiny Tapping Toes, a monkey drum, plus a free pdf of a craft version. World Music children's performer DARIA has spent the last two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children and allowing children to become a part of the celebration and the fun of exploring world cultures.

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