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D IS FOR DRAGON DANCE by Ying Chang Compestine


by Ying Chang Compestine & illustrated by YongSheng Xuan

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8234-1887-1
Publisher: Holiday House

Compestine offers a simple introduction to the Chinese New Year in the form of an alphabet book, but the information provided is slight. “V is for Veneration” is explained with the enigmatic line, “Families venerate their ancestors at New Year’s.” Not a very meaningful sentence, though the illustration showing a family bowing in front of an altar offers clues. The jewel-like paintings of a traditional Chinese family (complete with an incongruous TV and an electric fan) celebrating the holiday by donning new clothes, getting haircuts, making paper cuts, bringing oranges to friends and eating ceremonial foods are engaging. A playful yellow cat cavorts with a mouse throughout, adding more child appeal. There is another, more subtle design element: The artist has used four different calligraphic styles to create backgrounds on each page. An author’s note offers a little more explanation of the festival, but this visual treat should be supplemented by something more substantial. A recipe for dumplings and a Chinese Zodiac chart are included. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)