Chinese Kite Festival (中国风筝节) (Rich Lo)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Chinese Kite Festival (中国风筝节) by Rich Lo, a lovely bilingual dance through the sky with some unique kite creatures.

Join a menagerie of high-flying animals in a simple title that combines animal names with their symbolic meanings in Chinese culture and the Simplified Chinese written language. Readers can spy a bird soaring from its nest, a tiger pouncing across the sky, and a turtle sliding from a rock, among others, creating a sky-high dance of color and light.

Beautiful. Bringing together serene yet engaging artwork with gentle, simple sentences – both in English and Simplified Chinese – Lo creates a soothing early-reader look at animals that serves two languages with equal aplomb. Short sentences of soothing text, with a bold color highlighting each animal’s name in both languages, pair perfectly with digital watercolor artwork that give the kites themselves texture, depth, and motion. Backmatter explains what the animals represent in Chinese culture, a neat addition, though the text here is English-only for some reason, and I might have liked to see some information on Chinese kites and their cultural relevance as well. Otherwise, the length is perfect for a quick storytime for younger bookworms, and JJ loved the artwork. Overall, this is lovely read that brings together two languages and some lovely visuals, and definitely worth checking out. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome (Kat Zhang)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome, written by Kat Zhang and illustrated by Charlene Chua, a charming story of cross-language communication and the spirit of inclusivity.

Third in Zhang and Chua’s Amy Wu series, we, along with Amy and the rest of her elementary class, meet new classmate Lin. Lin and his family have recently moved from China, and their teacher bids the class give Lin a warm welcome. Amy takes this to heart, and makes gestures of friendship to Lin throughout the day, yet Lin remains distant and silent. However, after school, Amy observes Lin animatedly speaking with his little sister in Chinese, and sees a different side of her new friend. Amy relies on her talent for pondering, and tries to come up with a way to reach out to Lin. But just when she’s thought of the perfect thing, she develops her own fears of speaking in front of a crowd. Can Amy overcome her fears to offer Lin a warm welcome?

Wonderful. This is our first time reviewing an entry in the Amy Wu series, and we were so pleased to see that this one is just as delightful as the previous installments. While telling a sweet story of hospitality and being inclusive, Zhang also deftly explores the challenges of communicating across languages, especially for those learning a new language in a predominantly-monolingual environment (been there). A nice touch was having Lin’s dialogue with his sister being written in pinyin characters, allowing the reader to feel the sense of being in Lin’s shoes, while also providing translations in the back of the book. Chua’s illustrations are cheerful and colorful, and feature a nicely diverse cast of characters. The length is perfect for an elementary storytime, and JJ really liked it, especially the dumpling-making scenes (side note: this is the second time this week we’ve reviewed a book where the art has made me crave dumplings, and I’m not mad about it). Overall, a great story with a fantastic message, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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