It’s the seventh day of the Lunar New Year today, and I’m trying to keep the Chinese New Year (CNY) mood alive here in our Jakarta home by reading Happy Chinese New Year, Elena! with N. We got the book when we were back in Singapore last week for Chinese New Year, but we were so busy with all the visiting (and eating) that we didn’t have time to read it. N picks out A New Year’s Reunion from our bookshelf every now and then, even when it’s not the CNY period, so I figured it wasn’t too late to read this new book with him after we returned from Singapore.
N loves receiving new books, and was eager to read Happy Chinese New Year, Elena! when he saw it. His school had been teaching them about CNY, and they’ve been participating in different activities such as spring-cleaning and decorating the classroom, so he is definitely a lot more aware about CNY traditions this year.
In Happy Chinese New Year, Elena!, Elena travels to Beijing to celebrate CNY with her grandparents, and meets a lion there. They talk about CNY customs, and Elena tells the lion about her favourite CNY dishes and activities. She even shares instructions on how to make a pop-up card, and N immediately asked if he could try it out too. I thought it was great that the story included an activity so seamlessly, as it helps parents like me who enjoy doing follow-up activities after reading the books. I was hesitant about my ability to copy the design for the character 春 (spring) accurately, then realised I could easily find it online. If you’re keen, I saved the images from this website.
The book provides clear explanations for some CNY traditions, yet doesn’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. The illustrations are colourful and attractive, complementing the text perfectly. Young readers like N are very visual learners, so do let them take time to explore the pictures in the book.
What puzzled me a little was that Elena called one of the dishes ‘Lo Hei’, as I thought that that referred to the action of tossing the dish’s ingredients, rather than the dish itself. I know it as ‘Yu Sheng’, which technically means ‘raw fish’, but in Singapore, I think most people know that ‘Yu Sheng’ refers to this CNY dish, and not raw fish on its own.
Happy Chinese New Year, Elena!
If you’re looking for a CNY-related book to read with your children, I recommend that you get your own copy of Happy Chinese New Year, Elena!. There’s a good mix of information and points for discussion, and reading the book is a good way to engage the children in activities and discussions about CNY. Those of you who enjoy cooking can also have a dumpling-making session with your children after reading this book, as Elena also talked about her favourite dumpling ingredients. I had great difficulties looking for a CNY-related book previously, so this is definitely my new go-to book when it comes to CNY, since it covers the key points of CNY.
Buy the Book
Happy Chinese New Year, Elena! on Armour Publishing (Retail Price : $16.05 | Special Web Price: $14.45)
Happy Chinese New Year, Elena! is also available at Popular Bookstores
Check out the previous Friday Flips posts HERE. I’ve also created a photo album on Facebook with some other good reads, and will be updating it whenever I come across more books that we enjoy. Do pop by for a look HERE.
Disclaimer: We received a copy of ‘Happy Chinese New Year, Elena!’ for the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions are, as always, our own.