Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

What holiday coming up is filled with dragon dances, fire-crackers, long-noodles, and gifts of red envelopes filled with money? Chinese New Year! There multiple choices for those who want to celebrate this holiday via the power of books. Here are a few festive options:

According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2014 edition, the Year of the Horse begins on January 31st and the New Year's celebration lasts for fifteen days.

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Sebastia Serra. This is a tale of a young boy named Ming and his magical wok. This cooking pan looks rusty and lacks a handle, but it is definitely special. The story has elements that mimic the tales of The Gingerbread Man, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Robin Hood. While the moral obviously warns against greed, the overall tone of the book is joyous. At the end of the book, Compestine writes that people celebrate this holiday, also known as The Spring Festival, in the ways described in the first paragraph of this blog. The author also includes a recipe for stir-fried rice.

On a more serious note, some families are only all together during the Chinese New Year. A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Quiong with pictures by Zhu Cheng-Liang chronicles a young girl’s special time with her father. He travels for work and is only with her and her mother during the New Year Festival. A note at the end tells that, while this particular book is fictional, the situation really exists for millions of Chinese families. Curl up to share this tender story with your loved ones.

Another book, The Race for the Chinese Zodiac, details a myth about how the Chinese zodiac’s twelve-year cycle came to have a particular animal represent each year. Thirteen animals race to cross a river. Winners will earn a year named for them. Twelve animals succeed in reaching the finish line early enough for the heavenly ruler known as the Jade Emperor to reward them. The end of the book details the traits of each animal said to carry onto the children born during a given year. To experience this story that reads like folklore punctuated by watercolor illustrations and Chinese symbols, check out The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang with pictures by Sally Rippin.

May you enjoy this Year of the Horse! May these books help you welcome it. May happiness and prosperity be yours as the moon rotates around the earth yet again.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia is the education librarian for the Kansas City Public Library. She has worked at libraries in Nevada and Missouri for nine years. She earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences from the University of North Texas. As Chinese culture is not one with which she grew up, Anna Francesca is grateful for books, festivals, and food that have helped introduce her to the rich history of China. She shares what she learns with her six-year-old daughter.

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