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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chinese New Year Chapter Books for Older Kids

There are many lists about Chinese New Year books for preschoolers and young elementary students, but very few highlight chapter books for middle graders and tweens. There aren't many out there, but they DO exist. Here are a few of the Tongginator's favorites as well as several I've stumbled upon at our local elementary school library.

The Chinese New Year Mystery (Nancy Drew Notebooks) by Carolyn Keene. The third graders at Nancy's school are learning about Chinese culture during the Chinese New Year holiday. Nancy, George and Bess really get into the spirit of things, especially after they enjoy a traditional holiday dinner at the home of their classmate Mari Cheng. At school, the highlight of their celebration will be a dragon parade. Nancy's class spent lots of time creating the dragon out of feathers, sequins, gold tassels and red silk, but right before the parade the dragon disappears! Will Nancy and her friends be able to find the dragon in time for the parade? [typically second or third grade]

Happy New Year, Julie! by Megan McDonald. Ivy is the best friend of Julie, the "American Girl" from the seventies. I wish there was a Chinese-American AG rather than just a best friend, but at the moment Ivy is all they have. And she's great, I just wish she had a more starring role.  In this book, Ivy celebrates Chinese New Year with her best friend Julie.  (Although not CNY specific, Ivy also plays a major role in the book Good Luck, Ivy.) If your child is a fan of American Girl, then definitely include these books in your collection. [typically third or fourth grade]

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord.  ALA Notable Children's Book; School Library Journal Best Book; Parent's Choice Silver Honor Book; Virginia's Jefferson Cup Award.  Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to Brooklyn, New York during the spring of 1947. (Chapter One is titled "Chinese New Year.") Shirley is struggling to learn English, but then a miracle happens - baseball! Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player, becomes everyone's hero. He proves that anyone - the grandson of a slave, a new Chinese immigrant - can make a difference in America. [typically third or fourth grade]

The Magical Monkey King: Mischief in Heaven by Ji-Li Jiang. We hear the fable of the irrepressible Monkey King every Chinese New Year.  The story begins with Monkey's birth on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. After proving himself to the monkey tribe, who choose him as their king, Monkey tries to learn the secret of immortality, travels under the sea to steal a powerful weapon from the Dragon King, and wreaks havoc at the heavenly court of the Jade Emperor. Only Buddha can stop his mischief, and does so in a scene that works as exciting action and profound metaphor. This version is abridged enough so that the kids don't get bored, but is complete enough to be faithful to the full-length novel Journey to the West. [typically third or fourth grade]

The New Year Dragon Dilemma (A to Z Mysteries) by Ron Roy. Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose are in San Francisco, home of the biggest Chinatown in the United States. They plan to watch the famous Chinese New Year parade and see Miss Chinatown ride by on a giant float. But when night falls and the fireworks crackle, Miss Chinatown goes missing, and so does her crown. The celebration is ruined, and the prime suspect is a friend! Now Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose must clear their friend's name by finding the real culprit.Can the kids crack the case? [typically second or third grade]

Tales of a Chinese Grandmother by Frances Carpenter. All of the members of the Ling family, and especially the grandchildren Yu-Lang and Ah-Shung, love hearing stories told by their aged grandmother Lao Lao (Old Old One). She shares with the next generations tales of old focusing on the Ling ancestors who lived centuries ago. Each chapter details a different story - thirty in all. Several, though not all, of Lao Lao's stories focus on Chinese New Year holiday celebrations and traditions, including The God That Lived in the Kitchen, Guardians of the Gate, The Painted Eyebrow and Ting Lan and the Lamb. [typically fourth or fifth grade]

When the Circus Came to Town by Lawrence Yep. This book is based on actual events that occurred in the early twentieth century. Ursula loves living in tiny Whistle, Mont., or what her Pa calls the Back of Beyond, even though the circus won't ever come to her tiny town. She stays busy helping her parents run the stagecoach station, roams the wild hills and, after reading a penny dreadful that a stagecoach passenger leaves behind, invents a rollicking pirate adventure game with her friends. Everything changes when she catches small pox. Now all she wants is to hide her scarred face. But Ah Sam, her parents' Chinese cook, has other ideas. He brings to town a magical circus and finds a way to give Ursula the confidence she needs to face the world. In return, Ursula finds a way to make Ah Sam happy. She creates the biggest, best Chinese New Year celebration that )Whistle, Montana, has ever seen! [typically third or fourth grade]

The Year of the Dog and its sequels by Grace Lin. ALA Children's Notable; Asian Pacific American Librarian Association Honor; NAPPA Gold Winner; CCBC Choice; Five state award nominations, including the NCCB.  It's the Chinese Year of the Dog, and as Pacy celebrates the holiday with her family, she learns that this is the year she's supposed to "find herself" and make new friends.  These books are some of the more popular featuring a Chinese-American protagonist.  If your child is a girl, and you only get one series, this is the one I would recommend.  [typically third or fourth grade]

The Zodiac Legacy and its sequels by Stan Lee. While not precisely a book about Chinese New Year, The Zodiac Legacy and it's sequels give a nod to the Great Race and the twelve Chinese zodiac animals who placed first through twelfth. When 12 magical superpowers originating from the animals of the Chinese zodiac are unleashed on the world, a Chinese-American teen named Steven will join an epic global chase. While on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hong Kong, Steven suddenly finds himself equipped with the aggressive fighting prowess of the tiger. He teams up with his tour guide Jasmine and Jasmine's friends in a race to find the others infused with these rogue zodiac powers before Maxwell and his paramilitary goons get to them first. [typically fourth through sixth grade]


Alyson and Ford said...

Thank you for the list, we need more "grown up" CNY book choices too.

Alyzabeth's Mommy

Cedar said...

Hi! Great list! We've had Year of the Dog for awhile, but bought the rest for Sunflower this Christmas. My boys also loved the book when they were younger.

grtlyblesd said...

Year of the Book is the start of another series of chapter books that my 8 year old is getting into.

Good to see a post from you again. How are your girls doing?

Casa Bicicleta said...

Hey, good to see you again. Thanks for the list!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Shecki Grtlyblesd, they are growing like weeds! Thank you for asking. The Tongginator is in sixth grade now - the mind boggles. Parent Brag - she was Student of the Month a few months ago (out of over 400 students) and she went back to her elementary school today as "an ambassador." She's thriving in middle school. She's also first chair clarinet for concert band. Nice, kind friends. Accepted Christ about a year ago. Became a major fashionista (now wearing women's petites!).

Squirt is in kindergarten now, which is wonderful and sad at the same time. She loves her teacher and singing. She plays the piano a bit. She LOVES to read - Ivy and Bean is a favorite series. Still struggle a bit with her health now and again, but the gluten-free diet helps a ton.

How about your family?

grtlyblesd said...

So glad to hear Squirt's health is under control for the most part! It was pretty scary there for a while!

We're plugging along. My China girls are 8 and 5 now. I'm homeschooling 3 of my kids, including them, and we're having a lot of fun with art and field trips and such.

I got to go to China with my agency on an advocacy trip last year, and I've found a new passion. I can't wait to go back again. My dh is scared, lol. (If you know anyone looking to adopt some great little boys, send them my way!)

a Tonggu Momma said...

I absolutely will!

jennifer said...
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