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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 1, 2016)
Page 12 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
Lunar New Year
February 1, 2016
Explore the Lunar New Year and more in All About China
All About China: Stories, Songs,
Crafts, and More for Kids
By Allison “Aixin” Branscombe
Illustrations by Lin Wang
Tuttle Publishing, 2014
Hardcover, 64 pages, $16.95
By Kate Hubbard
The Asian Reporter
ebruary 8, 2016 marks the Year of the Monkey! If
you’re planning your upcoming Lunar New Year
celebration, check out All About China: Stories,
Songs, Crafts, and More for Kids, an informative book
about China and Chinese culture. The book is packed with
fascinating tidbits of history as well as a collection of
crafts, activities, recipes, and more. The graphics-heavy
format makes it entertaining to read for children and
instantly accessible for adults.
Tuttle Publishing has a philosophy of offering books
that span east and west. For young readers, All About
China is a great, practical introduction to the country.
Author Allison Branscombe uses a vivid mix of historical
facts, legends, and hands-on activities to share the
richness of China.
For example, readers learn about martial arts and get a
sense of what kung fu and tai chi are all about. Then there
are the thousands of inventions that originated in China
and went on to change the world. One can read about
acupuncture and herbalism and also practice some
common words in Mandarin. Additionally, culture enthu-
siasts can sing the “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
song in Chinese while marvelling at the secret language
Chinese women developed during the Qing Dynasty.
The arts are a rich cultural tradition in China, and the
author conveys the wonderful variety of ancient practices.
From calligraphy to folk dancing, porcelain to cloisonné,
colorful illustrations illuminate the concepts while fully
engaging one’s attention. All About China will walk
readers through food and crafts ideas for a festive Lunar
New Year celebration.
Starting with the book’s calligraphy lesson, you can
make red Happy New Year cards for family and friends.
The color red symbolizes celebration and is also the color
that scares off Nián — the monster that used to attack on
the last day of the Lunar New Year. According to legend,
this is how new year traditions started. When villagers
discovered Nián was afraid of red, they began hanging red
decorations on windows and doors and setting off
firecrackers to scare it away.
Next, read about how important family and celebration
are on the holiday. People travel long distances to be home
CULTURE FOR KIDS. All About China: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and
More for Kids, an informative book about China and Chinese culture, pro-
vides history about and ideas for Lunar New Year celebrations and more.
Pictured are the book cover (left) and a Lion Dance (right) — a tradition
featuring detailed movements together with loud drumming, gongs, and
symbols to scare off evil spirits.
and gather for a New Year’s Eve feast. The following day is
spent visiting family and friends and sharing food and
gifts. Different foods have deep symbolic meanings, and
Branscombe summarizes some of them, such as the
importance the direction the fish head faces when it is
presented and not cutting long noodles. The gathering can
also include mahjong and tangram brain teasers.
Young readers learn why it’s important to incorporate
feng shui into the home before guests arrive. To get ready,
they can follow the directions in the book to create
lanterns decorated with Chinese characters or the zodiac
sign for 2016. There’s even a retelling of the zodiac contest
that resulted in the creation of the twelve-year calendar,
with a handy chart that describes each zodiac animal and
which years they represent.
Although not everyone is lucky enough to be born in
the Year of the Dragon, we find out the origins of the
Dragon and how different the dragon myth is in China
compared to European versions. We learn about the
dragon dance and how it comes last in a parade to wish
everyone good fortune while marvelling at how the lion
dance really works and discovering how the creatures
Continued on page 17