Blending stories, history, facts, and photos, this resource offers a contemporary exploration of Chinese New Year.
With cozy memories of her own childhood celebrations, Chinese-Canadian Lee successfully sets the tone—the text provides information, but it also acknowledges the very personal aspects of holidays and traditions. A fairly coherent narrative follows, moving from origins and mythologies, through key historical moments, to discussions of how it is celebrated today, worldwide. Interspersed throughout are “CNY Facts,” quotes from famous Asians, child-friendly recipes, personal narratives, and an effective mix of scene-setting images and family photos. The package could be overwhelming if readers attempt to read from cover to cover. More likely, they will focus on specific chapters, if conducting research for an assignment, or enjoy browsing the discrete sections. A few quibbles: in a slightly awkward dance to cover China’s modern history and provide context, Lee uses vague indictments that just hint at actual brutality (“several million more people who had opposed Mao’s decisions died from violence, often because of the Red Guards”). Readers would also benefit from more rigorous citations than are provided in the general reference/resource list. The Canadians featured seem to have been selected arbitrarily and are, oddly, adults reflecting on memories rather than children. Still, Lee capably conveys the diverse, dynamic nature of this holiday, from past to present to future.
A thoughtful, thorough reference. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)