BooksForKidsBlog

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Salute Chinese New Year with...Fortune Cookies by Albert Bitterman

ONE DAY I GOT A BOX IN THE MAIL. IT HAD SEVEN FORTUNE COOKIES IN IT.

ON SUNDAY MY FORTUNE SAID "TODAY YOU WILL LOSE SOMETHING YOU DON'T NEED."

A little girl's mysterious gift box turns out to have a week's worth of surprises. On Sunday, as predicted, she loses a baby tooth, which "magically" morphs into tooth fairy money under her pillow. When Monday's fortune likens money to the wind, she takes the hint and spends the stash on a kite, which, as promised in the next day's fortune, is lost... in the top branches of a tree.

But not to worry! Her next fortune cookie counsels that she look on the bright side of bad luck, and true to prediction, in the lower branches of the kite-stealing tree the girl finds just what she really wants--a cat. But then the cat disappears. Following next day's fortune, the girl reveals her sadness to anyone who will listen, but all the next day's cookie suggests is the that fortune comes to those who wait for it. And finally the seventh fortune cookie's promise of a lucky day is fulfilled: she finds her missing cat--hidden away with a litter of newborn kittens which she aptly names after the days of the week, one for each of the seven fortunes.

Albert Bitterman's Fortune Cookies (Beach Lane, 2011) is tasty way to kick off the fifteen days of Chinese New Year celebration, with a clever "toy and movable book" with well-designed pull tabs that slide out to reveal each day's fortune. The two-time Caldecott-winning Chris Raschka's signature black-line and pastel art style here provides the perfect illustrations for this light but satisfying little story. Says Publishers Weekly, "A tidy, perfectly paced story with subtle grace and a kernel of wisdom."

In case you haven't noticed, the Great Recession has resulted in a dearth of new books on the subjects of the less celebrated holidays and specially observed weeks and months. Fortunately, American publishers still have some tasty cookies in their backlist cookie jars, so to speak. Here are a few tried and true titles for Chinese New Year:

NONFICTION

Lucky New Year! by Carolyn Otto (National Geographic)

Celebrating Chinese New Year: An Activity Book by Carolyn Hoyt-Goldsmith (Asia For Kids)

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! by Demi (Crown Books)

Bringing in the New Year (Read to a Child!: Level 2) by Grace Lin (Dragonfly)


FICTION

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn (Lee and Low)

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds (Harcourt)

The Year of the Rabbit: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chinn (Immedium)

Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story (Festival Time) by Jonny Zucker (Barron's)

The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Yin Chang Compestine (Dutton, 2011)

The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin (Dutton) and its sequel The Year of the Dog (Dutton)

For more tips on celebrating the upcoming Year of the Rabbit, there is a web site which offers a stir-fry of suggestions from coloring pages and crafts to cooking up tasty tidbits, history, symbols, and even a Chinese horoscope guide here.

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