Monday, February 02, 2009

Review: Bringing in the New Year

by Grace Lin. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Review copy.

The Lunar New Year was last Monday, Jan. 26. I was distracted by my health issues last week so I completely missed the celebrations. Fortunately the holiday can last for 15 days so I think I'm not too late to look for lantern festivals and dragon dance parties on Feb. 9.

Grace Lin's book Bringing in the New Year is a gorgeous picture book that tells how her family celebrates the Chinese New Year. From sweeping out the house to get rid of the old year, to hanging spring happiness poems, getting a hair cut and making good luck dumplings her Jie Jie (older sister), Ba Ba (father), Ma Ma (mother) and Mei Mei (little sister) prepare to celebrate. Then comes the fireworks, the feast and the dragon dance.

The simple text and lively, brightly colored illustrations in Lin's signature style of paintings come together to make this a delightful book for sharing the festivities with young children and their families. The end papers are scattered with further illustrations of symbolic New Year's elements such as red envelopes (holding monetary gifts for all the children), drums, oranges, gongs, spring couplets (poems of good fortune), and a whole fish for the feast. The last two pages of text are a clearly worded outline of the customs and traditions of the Lunar New Year as it has been celebrated around the world. This book is a treasure to add to your collection and to share!

Visit Grace Lin's website to see her other books. Check out her project for 2009: Small Graces, where is auctioning off a painting a month with proceeds going to the Foundation of Children's Books to support author visits in low-income schools.

More on the Lunar New Year:

Info Please
Spring Festival
Lantern Festival
Chinese Zodiac predictions for 2009 (by birth year)

Fortunately for me I don't follow the zodiac predictions for the Year of the Ox or take it too seriously, because I am born in the year of the Pig by this calendar and it doesn't look good for us. It's a good thing I put my hope in the Lord! :)

Monday's Nonfiction round up is at Picture Book of the Day. If you are blogging a nonfiction book review today go join in and Enjoy!


Myth said...

lol doesn't look so good for this cow (ox) either! I think your choice is much better too :D

Mary Ann Scheuer said...

this looks like a great book. Thank you for sharing it. I posted a poem about celebrating the Lunar New Year - you might like it. enjoy!

Grace Lin said...

Thanks for the nice words!

They say the Year of the OX is the year of hard work...hopefully with great rewards, though. Crossing my fingers for the that.

David Firepig said...

The Ox is the second sign of the Chinese zodiac. Like its predecessor and complement, the Rat, it signifies new beginnings. The main difference is the Ox is associated with building to last and slow but sure action. Even more so than last year we all have to make good choices, as that which is begun now is likely to have long term consequences.

As with last year, this is an Earth year. The difference is this one is yin rather than yang. It is thus likely to be less tumultuous. On a personal level, better results are more likely to be achieved by reacting to circumstances and going with the flow rather than aggressively charging forward and initiating a lot of action.

Unfortunately Earth has a destructive relationship with the Ox's fixed element, Water. In fact this is the fourth in a run of six years governed by an unlucky conflict of elements. This fact should come as no surprise to those who have followed US and world financial markets or the unspeakable horror that has persisted in Iraq.

The combination of Earth and Ox, however, is not at all a negative combination. Its primary characteristic is durability. It suggests an environment dominated by cautious pragmatism rather than quixotic dreaming. Things will get done.

Furthermore, they will generally be successful if done in harmony with the spirit of the Earth Ox. This applies both to the type and amount of new projects as well as the approach to accomplishing them. That means focusing on just a few, long term projects. It also suggests proceeding in a cautious yet determined manner. Finally, it counsels avoiding taking unnecessary risks and yielding to the temptation to seek short term gains.

Since this is an Earth year, those people born in a Metal year will generally fare better than others of their animal sign, while those born in a Water one are likely to do worse than those born in Wood, Fire, and Earth years.

The year 2009 will be a period of lasting accomplishments. This is true for individuals, societies and the human race in general. There may be times when motivation appears to be lacking. In fact the big challenge everyone faces is to generate the enthusiasm and desire to act. Those individuals and organizations that do will create enduring benefits for themselves and the world.

To see how your sign fares during the year of the Ox, continue on.

For your daily Chinese Horoscopes, you can go to