小蛇散步 Book Review

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Title: 小蛇散步 (xiao3 she2 san4 bu4)/The Little Snake Takes a Walk

ISBN: 9789867188243, 9789862116043

Author: 伊東寬

Publisher: 小魯寶寶書

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: A little snake goes out for a walk and encounters a puddle. As he is about to leave, he ends up helping a bunch of new friends cross the puddle as well.

Sample Pages:

Ratings: 5 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: My kids LOVE this book. They first saw it in their Chinese preschool teacher’s house and when we went back for Taiwan Trip 2014, they saw it at Eslite and begged me to buy it. So, I did.

Be forewarned. ONLY THE NARRATIVE HAS ZHUYIN.

Imagine my surprise when I finally brought it home to read it to my kids only to see that the comic portion with the handwritten font DOES NOT have zhuyin.

Let’s just say that at the time, my Chinese was not good enough to read those parts without frantically looking up characters in Pleco. However, having read this book so many times, I now don’t need to anymore. (Or as much.)

I can’t remember if my kids have tried to read this book on their own, but they do enjoy this picture book a lot because it’s funny, silly, and has lots of fun sounds and illustrations.

Super cute. Highly recommend.

Hunger: Book Review

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Title: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Author: Roxane Gay

Publisher: Harper

Genre/Category: Memoir, POC Author, WOC Author

Summary: Gay writes a brutally honest memoir of her body, of her eating, of her weight, of her inability to lose her weight, of why she gained the weight, and of so many other things that are not related to weight or food but are equally and perhaps moreso about hunger.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: So achingly sad. Hunger is aptly named.

You feel Gay’s ferocious hunger – both literal and metaphorical.

My heart breaks for her. I sympathize in my limited capacity. I am grateful for her opening wide so we can glimpse her hunger and brokenness.

Gay’s writing is haunting, melancholic, and deep. Her writing is the kind that cracks me wide open and all sorts of feelings leak out. Feelings that I have been shoving down, trying to bury, trying to forget, trying to unthink or unfeel.

Her book reminds me of all the things that I hunger for, the things that I want and desperately desire, and then try to fill with completely inappropriate or inadequate things.

I had to space out the reading of this book because it is too raw. Too painful. Too brilliant.

She writes in a way that I want to write. Gay reminds me of the best of Radiohead or Tori Amos.

She is luminous.

Utterly fantastic.

青蛙撲通跳 Book Review

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Title: 青蛙撲通跳 (qing wa pu tong tiao4)/The Frog Jumps

ISBN: 9789861612430

Author: 李紫蓉

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: Another bunch of short poems/rhymes about nature.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: Though the illustrations are quite beautiful, neither Cookie Monster (6.5 at time of reading) nor Gamera (5.75) liked this book much, either.

Again, it’s because it is a bunch of short poems about nature and my kids are somewhat MEH about poems that are not longer, involved stories. In fact, Gamera was so bored that it took her over 4-5 days to read this book even though clearly, it’s not long and doesn’t require that many days to get through.

Come to think of it, the hardest part actually is that the characters are in a handwritten font so it’s not as easy for children to decipher what the character is. On top of that, the zhuyin is also handwritten. That is what both my kids objected to the most.

Here is a quick video of Gamera reading an excerpt of this book.

青蛙和蟾蜍快樂年年 (Frog and Toad All Year) Book Review

Like my reviews? Want more tips and advice on how to teach your kids Chinese? Want someone to just give you an Action Plan that you can follow? Check out my book (affiliate link), So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.

Title: 青蛙和蟾蜍快樂年年 (qing wa han4 chan2 chu2 kuai4 le4 nian2 nian2)/Frog and Toad All Year

In fact, here’s the 4 book box set:

青蛙和蟾蜍好朋友 (qing wa han4 chan2 chu2 hao3 peng2 you3)/Frog and Toad are Friends

青蛙和蟾蜍好伙伴 ((qing wa han4 chan2 chu2 hao4 huo3 ban4)/Frog and Toad Together

青蛙和蟾蜍快樂時光 (qing wa han4 chan2 chu2 kuai4 le4 shi2 guang)/Days with Frog and Toad

ISBN: 9780060239510, 9577622461, 95767622453, 9577622437

Author: 艾諾 洛貝爾 (Arnold Lobel)

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Early Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: Translation of the classic, Frog and Toad All Year. Includes five short stories of Frog and Toad throughout the year such as sledding, buying ice cream, raking leaves, and Christmas Eve.

Sample Pages: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: I recall reading these books when I was a kid, but I wasn’t really excited for Cookie Monster (7.5) to read them because I kept confusing Frog and Toad with The Wind and the Willows. But then I remembered (after Cookie Monster read a few) that I had read them in an anthology my parents had bought and I didn’t dislike or love them.

Anyhow, I was reluctant to start Cookie Monster on these also because they’re like chapter books and longer and frankly, I didn’t want to sit there and listen to him read for that long. (I know. I am SO MEDIOCRE.)

However, I finally bit the bullet because just how long can Cookie Monster read short picture books?

I am SO GLAD I did.

I guess he grew up all of a sudden. He says he likes the longer books now because they are more interesting. And then, he has started reading silently by himself. (I have mixed feelings about this because while that does make it easier on me, I cannot verify that he is pronouncing everything right and lately, he has been super messing up his tones.)

Plus, he’s been eager to read the book and finishing it on his own because he said the stories were funny. He even picked it up when he was bored and read on his own.

I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe it was the eclipse. But I am VERY PLEASED.

I was also pleasantly surprised that he actually understood what was going on in the stories and he was good about asking me for help on words he couldn’t quite get the right pronunciation on or didn’t understand their meaning.

All in all, I was very happy that we finally took the plunge.

These books are a nice bridge to actual chapter books and are helping him build confidence that he can actually tackle books with more words and length.

Highly recommend.

In fact, you really should just buy the whole set of four books. I have never seen Cookie Monster voluntarily read books – especially longer books. He finds the stories so silly and funny and he usually reads two chapters at a time.

He actually asked me if there were more Frog and Toad books and unfortunately, we do not. Thankfully, I have a set of 8-9 more Arnold Lobel books! YAY!

十兄弟 Book Review

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Title: 十兄弟 (shi2 xiong di4)/The Ten Brothers

ISBN: 9789861614717

Author: 小翔

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: Ten brothers with special talents (eg: far sightedness, extra sharp hearing, steel skin, super long legs, etc.) rescue their father from being wrongfully imprisoned in the Emperor’s prison. The Emperor thinks they are bad guys so he keeps sending guards to stop the brothers. The brothers’ unique abilities get them out of these dangerous situations and eventually rescue their father.

Sample Pages:

  

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: This book is Cookie Monster’s (7.5) new favorite. He learned a lot of new terms (especially famous Chinese super powers – the Chinese equivalent of American super hero tropes such as x-ray vision, flying, or quick healing) but most importantly, loved the illustrations and story.

He enjoyed trying to guess which brother was which based on their illustration alone and often paused between pages so he could fully enjoy and examine the drawings.

The story itself is a different version of the story I read as a child, but the gist is the same. It was a little bit hard for Cookie Monster to understand some of the terms and plot points, but he still had no problem telling Gamera (5.5) about some of the story and claiming that this book was his new favorite.

The Liminal People: Book Review

If you’re a long time reader, you may remember me doing some posts on books in the past. I have wanted to do book reviews for a really long time, but always got intimidated by people who write lengthy reviews because honestly, as wordy as I am about other things, I am NOT wordy about book reviews.

However, now that I’ve gotten several months of 5 Minute Book Reviews under my belt, I’m a little more confident that I can write NON-Chinese related book reviews in this style.

Of course, this being my blog, I’m preferential to Regency Romance novels, speculative fiction, and women and people of color authors and main characters.

So, without further ado, I bring you the first series (because let’s face it, I read series) that I’m officially reviewing for myself.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Book:The Liminal People, Sequel(s):The Liminal WarThe Entropy of Bones

Author: Ayize Jama-Everett, an African American speculative fiction writer

Publisher: Self-published; Small Beer Press

Genre/Category: Speculative Fiction, Near Future Fantasy, POC Author, POC Main Protagonist

Summary: Kinda like if the X-Men were an all black (or black dominant) cast set in London and Morocco.

The Liminal People follows the story of Taggert, a man who has the power to hurt or heal people just by touching them. He finds out that his biological daughter is missing and he goes AWOL from his super-villain employer (who has unknown powers) to find her and keep her safe.

The Liminal War deals with the fallout of Taggert’s previous decisions as his adopted daughter now goes missing. Lots of mayhem and even more people with powers come out of the woodwork.

The Entropy of Bones is not a direct sequel, but is set in the same universe. We get the origin story of one of the side characters that show up to bail out Taggert and the crew in The Liminal War. (Full disclosure: I have not yet read this book. It is in the queue.)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: WOW! These books are action packed, exciting, and such a breath of fresh air.

Not because any of the tropes or plot points are particularly new or innovative but because the main characters are black or mixed race. And BECAUSE of the characters’ non-whiteness, their backgrounds, their ethnic communities and enclaves, and as a result, their MOTIVATIONS open up even MORE story options and possibilities and THAT is new and shiny.

SO FANTASTIC.

The color of the characters even change the rhythm and flow and timbre of the language – whether it is reflected in the actual dialog or just in the way the narrative is written.

Jama-Everett writes moving stories and I blasted through his books at a blistering pace. It helps that the books are more novella length and not the door-stoppers that I had been reading up until that point.

I WANT MORE AND MORE AND MORE.

Definitely recommend – especially if you love the X-Men or graphic novels featuring mutants and their powers.

小胖小 Book Review

Like my reviews? Want more tips and advice on how to teach your kids Chinese? Want someone to just give you an Action Plan that you can follow? Check out my book (affiliate link), So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.

Title: 小胖小 (xiao3 pang4 xiao3)/Small Fat Small (nursery rhymes)

ISBN: 9789861614861

Author: 潘人木

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: A collection of a few silly nursery rhymes for kids.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: It’s not that the book is bad, per se. It’s okay for what it is. But neither Gamera (5.75) nor Cookie Monster (6.5 at time of reading) liked the book much when they read it.

The main difficulty is that because these are super short nursery rhymes, there really isn’t a plot to follow. Because of that, it’s hard for the kids to guess or predict what the words will be because it’s not enough for context to give any hints of what will come next.

Of course, if you’re an adult, it is much easier because we understand rhyme schemes and know there are only so many words they would be able to use in that context.

This book is good for teaching about rhymes and rhyming sounds.

Otherwise, the illustrations are alright and cute enough (though not nearly as engaging as the illustrations in other books).

Here is a quick video of Gamera reading an excerpt of this book.