Elizabeth Varadan | The Children’s Book Review | April 13, 2014
Story by Faye-Lynn Wu, Illustrations by Aya Padrón
Age Range: 3 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Hardcover with Jacket edition (February 12, 2013)
What to Expect: Beautiful illustrations, rhymes, and small facts that introduce a young person to the Chinese language.
This unique and charming alphabet book uses rhymes and fact snippets to introduce Chinese words to a pre-schooler. The words are written in Pinyin, a sound system using Roman letters to write Chinese sounds. Words introduced are significant in Chinese culture, but relatable in any culture. An example: “H is for hóng.” Hóng is the Chinese word for the color red, and pre-school children in general have an interest in naming colors. But red is an especially meaningful color in Chinese culture, so its definition bridges cultures for the young learner.
The author uses an appealing format: At the top of each page, letters in alphabetical sequence introduce a new word with a rhyming quatrain. Below that, or to one side, the word is written in Chinese script, rather than Pinyin. At the bottom of the page, a small paragraph gives information about why the word is significant in Chinese culture. The page’s illustration shows people engaged in an activity that expresses the meaning of the word.
“In Chinese culture the dragon means strength, generosity, and good luck. In Chinese neighborhoods all over the world the dragon dance celebrates happy occasions.”
The end-rhyme poems don’t always have a consistent rhythm, but they do have a lyrical tone, and they lend themselves visually to Aya Padrón’s expressive illustrations. The nuggets of information are concise and interesting. A helpful preface provides aids to pronunciation. A website is provided for young listeners to actually hear the words pronounced.
This book will appeal to pre-school children, who are interested in Chinese culture and themes and like to learn new words from other languages.
Add this book to your collection: My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book
About the Author
Faye-Lynn Wu was born and raised in Taiwan. Her experiences of teaching her own children in the U.S. and managing language programs for early education have led her to focusing on introducing language to kids in the most positive way possible. She is the admissions officer at an independent school in Berkley, California, serves on the board of a Chinese language school, and teaches Mandarin. She is the author of Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes.
About the Illustrator
Aya Padron is a freelance artist who works in many media, among them painting and photography. She is the illustrator of Korean for Beginners and My First Book of Korean Words.
About the Reviewer
My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book, story by Faye-Lynn Wu and illustrations by Aya Padrón, was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan.