The Year of the Monkey -- Book Review

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review free of charge from Immedium. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them.

February 8, 2016 begins the lunar new year. There are several cultures that celebrate the lunar new year, but the Chinese is the largest one and the most heard about one. The Chinese have an animal zodiac for each year. It is based on a twelve year (and twelve animal) system. We are ending the year of the sheep and will be beginning the year of the monkey. There are several versions of legends as to how the twelve animals were picked. Today we will focus on the year of the monkey!!

Today I get the pleasure of sharing with you The Year of the Monkey by Oliver Chin and illustrated by Kenji Ono. Oliver Chin has a twelve book series with a book for each animal in the Chinese Zodiac. We have reviewed The Year of the Horse from this series as well.

In this story the Monkey King finds a wife and they settle down and have a child, Max. Well the Monkey King and Queen had their share of adventures and many tricks in their past. As Max starts school he wants to learn the family tricks. At school Max and his best friend, Kai, are introduced to jianzi or shuttlecock. They also see the best team in the land, the Dragon and the Tiger. The boys begin to practice, but Max's parents tell him he should something more worthwhile on which to spend his time and energy. However when they hear about the big jianzi competition and how no one thinks there will be anyone to beat the Dragon and the Tiger, his parents push him to be the best. They are entered into the competition. And I will leave the story there. However Max and Kai have a lot of fun together--helping others and playing tricks on others. Max's parents think he is just like them or as they say, "a chimp off the old block." 

People born in the year of the monkey are said to be clever, curious, quick witted and mischievous. They are masters of practical jokes and this book demonstrates that with the characters. (Source) An interesting fact about the year of the monkey, it is believed that the year of the monkey is unlucky for people born under the year of the monkey (people born 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 and 2004). (Source) In China many monkey decorations will be hung for this celebration. We are using my paper pom pom monkey head at our house. To make a monkey head you will need eight pieces of brown tissue paper and three of cream or white tissue paper as well as string or ribbon, glue and paper scraps for eyes and nose and a red pipe cleaner for the mouth.

Layer five pieces of brown paper and then the cream or white tissue paper on top of them. Fold them in accordion style (back and forth like you would a fan) until the end (around 1-inch folds). Tie the string or ribbon around the middle of the folded tissue paper. Gently open the tissue paper layers to create the pom pom. Try to get the white or cream showing for the face. Glue the extra ribbon or string upwards so you can use it to hang your decoration when completed. Cut out black and white ovals/circles for eyes and nose from scraps of paper and glue on the face. For the ears take the remaining brown tissue paper and cut in half each direction and create two equal piles. Fold each pile as you did for the pom pom. Tie each in the middle. Open these up like a fan so you create two semicircles. Glue them to the sides of the head. Now your monkey decoration is ready to hang!

During the Chinese New Year fireworks and fire crackers are often lite to scare away bad spirits. Often there children (and adults) also play loud musical instruments. We made some Chinese instruments a few years back for the Chinese New Year. Children are often given little red envelopes with money in them and many decorations are hung up.
Our decoration and little envelope from last year

For even more information on Chinese New Year and the Year of the Monkey check out this great blog hop sponsored by Multicultural Kid Blogs! Be sure to link up your posts as well!!