A Sweet New Year for Ren (Michelle Sterling)

Hello friends, and Happy Year of the Rabbit! To celebrate, we have a special weekend review for you: A Sweet New Year for Ren, written by Michelle Sterling and illustrated by Dung Ho, a wonderful tale of family, tradition, and growing up.

Young Ren wakes with a heart full of excitement – Lunar New Year is nearly here, and she is hoping to be able to help with the preparations this year, especially the making of the pineapple cakes. Still, as she offers assistance to family members in hanging lanterns, steaming dumplings, and cooking noodles, she is gently told again and again that she is too little. At last, her big brother Charlie comes home and, with his patient assistance, she is allowed to try her hand at making the pineapple cakes, which are a hit! Gathering with family to celebrate, red envelopes are exchanged and firecrackers lit, as everyone shares sweet treats to usher in a sweet new year.

Delightful. Sterling’s text and Ho’s illustrations are rich with familial warmth, the childlike wonder of the holidays, and fantastic attention to detail in its depiction of Chinese-American heritage. Ren’s frustration with being “too little” is a universal one that kids of all backgrounds can relate to, drawing readers into a wonderful story that either celebrates their own culture or teaches them about a holiday they may not yet be familiar with. A recipe for Ren’s pineapple cake is even included in the backmatter. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved this one; she received her own red envelope from a friend this year, and was excited to learn more about the holiday that had prompted it. Overall, a sweet treat that all young readers are sure to enjoy, and we highly recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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