CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 27. . . .March 15, 2013
A young girl celebrates the Chinese Moon festival with her family in this poetic picture book. The holiday evening contains many special elements, from the thrill of being allowed to stay up late, to lighting paper lanterns in the backyard. The child and her parents eat moon cakes and sip tea. As they gaze into the autumn night sky, Mama and Baba share three moon-related Chinese legends. The first story-within-the-story centers on Change-E, a woman whose bravery against evil was repaid by the Jade Emperor who granted her eternal life on the moon. Wu-Gang is another archetypical character who also lives on the moon. In this tale, the lazy woodcutter is doomed to forever chop down a perpetually regenerating tree. The final story introduces the Jade Rabbit, a selfless animal who lives on the moon with three moon magicians and “brings food to those on earth who need it”.
The ancient stories feature rich vocabulary and intriguing images. Decorated with a scroll design and appearing in italics, the three tales also look ornate on the pages of the book. The young girl’s responses to the stories are reflective and full of wonder: “I look for Chang-E and the Jade Palace on the moon, but I don’t see them. ‘Maybe they are on the other side,’ I say.”
Renné Benoit’s watercolour, coloured pencil and gouache illustrations present a warm, loving family sharing traditions. There are many circular shapes, including the lanterns, cakes, and the family cuddled together beneath a blanket. The teapot and cups show details from Baba’s stories.
An author’s note explains when the Chinese Moon Festival is celebrated annually and describes it as a “time for families to come together and give thanks for the harvest and family unity”. This is a wonderful book to introduce cultures and holidays.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.