New Year surprise! by Christopher Cheng

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Ill. by Di Wu. National Library of Australia, 2016. ISBN 9780642278838
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Chinese New Year, Responsibility, Family, Celebrations, Festivals, China, Inclusivity. This beautiful book shows the reader many customs and traditions surrounding the celebration of New Year in Northern China. In a small village the New Year is almost here. Little Brother is told he is too little to help with the adults or older children, but Grandfather tells him that he has a special job to do. He is eager to find out what this is.
Each few pages shows the village preparing for the festival, with Little Brother wanting to help, and wondering whether this is hie special job. Through him we see the variety of preparations needed to celebrate new Year in the village: Sister and Mother spend lots of time making dumplings, Father hangs the banners and red lanterns, Brother and his friends go and fly their kites, Father chooses the duck from the hawker, the relatives come for special tea, and so on until finally it is time to get the Dragon ready. Little Brother hopes he will be included but is told he is too small. Father then appears with the Pearl of Wisdom to carry before the dragon. But he has two, one is for Little Brother and the two carry their Pearls of Wisdom before the dragon to bring luck to the village for the following year. Everyone sleeps well that night.
This beautiful book not only tells the story of how New Year is celebrated within a tale of inclusivity, but the illustrations will astound and astonish as well. Di Wu once a farmer in Northern China used traditional rice paper on which to do his illustrations using brushes and traditional colours to ensure its authenticity. His achievement is breath taking. Each page draws the eyes to its colour and movement, as the small child watches what is going on, desperate to be involved. Each page shows a range of activities and readers will love looking at its variety and vivacity.
A wonderful addition to any school or home library, the book has explanations at the back which are most informative as well.
Fran Knight