PoPo helps her granddaughter learn Chinese New Year traditions in this intergenerational celebration of family and culture.
When PoPo arrives from China, preparations for Chinese New Year, a holiday that’s like “Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all bundled together,” begin. Everything, from what one cooks and wears to how one cleans and decorates, is important to this age-old custom. As PoPo explains the symbolism behind each gesture, her Chinese-American granddaughter reacts with an honesty and effort that will captivate readers. The child’s candid responses, both humorous and endearing, make the holiday’s rituals accessible—whether she’s sweeping her baby brother out with the bad luck (before bringing him back in and lovingly rubbing his “big Buddha belly”), greedily eating seconds for a long life, or acting like a cash register, yelling “Cha Ching!” when red envelopes with money are being distributed. Benoit’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are extremely appealing. They exude warmth—both in the way she draws her characters and with her palette selection and how she thoughtfully applies her colors. Everything has a softness to it, drawing readers in, until they too feel embraced by the girl who cuddles her baby brother and the grandmother who is passing her heritage on to her kin. With running commentary on common practices included on each spread and an art activity at the end, Loh-Hagen offers a comprehensive idea of what Chinese New Year is about, couched within an authentic Chinese-American experience.
One of the best of its genre; attractive and informative, and a must for the growing Chinese New Year shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)