小黃點 Book Review

Title: 小黃點 (xiao3 huang2 dian3)/Mix It Up!

ISBN: 9789577625038

Author/Illustrator: Hervé Tullet

Publisher: 上誼

Level: Chinese Picture Book, Fiction

Summary: Follow the instructions and see what happens to the Little Yellow Dot! Press the dot, shake the book, and blow on the pages.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 5/5 stars

5 Minute Review: This book is hands down, my children’s favorite of the bunch. It definitely is Glow Worm’s (3.5) favorite. He never gets tired of this book and doesn’t exactly follow the directions, but he loves to hit every single dot and count all the dots of each color. It can be mindnumbingly dull when he does this. But hey. He’s 3.5.

He also enjoys pointing out all the characters he recognizes so that’s fun, too. Like the other books in the series, there is no zhuyin and some of the characters are unfamiliar to me and despite me looking them up a bjillion times, I forget them just as quickly.

Such is the consequence of having an older brain.

At least it’s pretty easy to figure out what they are saying from context and it’s ok with me to just guesstimate. Perhaps not the best for increasing literacy, but laziness wins.


Highly recommend.

Below is a video of me reading the book to Glow Worm.

兩隻老虎歡樂歌謠 Book/CD Review

Title: 兩隻老虎歡樂歌謠 (liang3 zhi lao2 hu3 huan le4 ge yao2)/Two Little Tigers Songs

ISBN: 9867598903

Producer: 風車圖書出版 (Windmill)

Level: Children’s songs, zhuyin

Summary: A collection of 40+ children’s songs. Some are translations of English children’s songs. Some are Chinese/Taiwanese children’s songs.

Sample Pictures:

Rating: 5/5 stars

5 Minute Review: My kids love this CD set. In fact, most people I know own this set because it was featured on AsianParent.com and is easily accessible.

The best part is that they include lyrics with zhuyin for every featured song. I find this super helpful because just because you hear the song doesn’t mean you actually have the right lyrics. I have trouble identifying lyrics correctly in English – let alone Chinese.

Anyhow, this is all just to say that it’s useful to have the lyrics in Chinese with zhuyin because I am semi-illiterate and this helps. They also have fun illustrations.

Highly recommend.

Here are three videos of Gamera singing some songs from the book.


火車快跑 Book Review

Title: 火車快跑 (huo3 che kuai4 pao3)/Freight Train

ISBN: 9573212404

Authors: Donald Crews (著/唐諾 克魯斯,譯:劉思源)

Publisher: 遠流出版事業股份有限公司

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Picture Book, Fiction

Summary: This book is a Chinese translation of Freight Train by Donald Crews. First, we read about all the different types of railroad cars on the train. They are also listed by color. Then we follow the train as it makes its journey across the rails and goes faster and faster. 

Sample Pages: 

Rating: 5/5 stars

5 Minute Review: This book is super easy and fun to read. Gamera (5yo) read it very quickly and loved the pictures and story. It helped that both Gamera and Cookie Monster (7yo) heard this story often when they were attending Chinese preschool. 

Gamera recognized most of the words and the ones she didn’t (or forgot), she sounded out easily with zhuyin. In fact, I am pleased with how well she did – even though I know it is a simple and easy to read book. 

Plus, the illustrations are beautiful and dreamy and I find them to be my favorite part. 

Highly recommend. 

Below is a video of Gamera reading an excerpt from 火車快跑 (huo3 che kuai4 pao3)/Freight Train.

好聽啟蒙故事 CD Review

Title: 好聽啟蒙故事 (hao3 ting qi3 meng2 gu4 shi4)/The Best of Enlightenment Stories

Producer: 台欣 (Tai Shin)

Level: Non-Fiction, Fiction, Fairy Tales,

Summary: 10 CD collection of bedtime stories; CDs 1-5 are fairytales, fables, and stories; CD 6 is biographies of famous composers; CD 7 is samples of the famous composers; CD 8 is stories of famous and great people (eg: Archimedes, Michaelangelo, DaVinci, Washington); CDs 9-10 are about constellations and random music (so I guess Greek/Roman myths).

Sample Pictures:

Rating: 4/5 stars

5 Minute Review: All my children love this CD set. The production value is great and fun to listen to. My only complaint is that for the first 5 CDs, the sound is off because they play songs within the stories but the songs are much louder than the narration so it’s really hard to hear in the car. However, this is a small problem.

The CDs on composers is nice because the background music is from the composer and it’s fun for me to try and figure out the composer based on the music alone and their translation of their name.

CD 7 just has a few words explaining the piece background and then plays classical music for each composer in CD 6.

CDs 9-10 could have been condensed into one CD. There is no reason why there needs to be bad instrumental music between each constellation story. 

Incidentally, the CDs on composers, famous people, and constellations were a bit over my head. I got the gist, but the vocabulary and topics were definitely not on the same level as the story books. (My kids also didn’t find them very interesting.)

My main beef with this series is not with the CDs/productions themselves – but rather the actual fairy tales themselves. So I often have to stop the CD and tell the kids that it’s stupid for a princess to give her kingdom to a random dude who kisses her and frees her from some stupid spell.

Or that it’s dumb to plant a tree that grows silver leaves and golden apples but to leave all that to marry the first knight to show up instead of selling the silver leaves and golden apples to live by herself.

My children’s favorite story, though, is 胡扯國的故事 (hu2 che3 guo2 de5 gu4 shi4)/The Ridiculous Country’s Stories. It’s two minutes long and all it is are examples of ridiculous statements (eg: three mice chased down a cat and scared it). For some reason, Gamera (5) and Glow Worm (3) find it hilarious and demand to hear it on repeat.

I don’t understand.

Either way, I am very satisfied with the CD set. We listen to them in the car and I will have us listen to each CD a few times so they get used to the story and recognize them and hear the vocabulary before I swap them out for other CDs.

Even my Chinese has improved!

Highly recommend.

蓮花 Book Review

Title: 蓮花 (lian2 hua)/Lotus Flower 

ISBN: 9789861614700

Authors: 信誼基金出版社

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Picture Book, Non-Fiction, Science

Summary: This book discusses the lotus flower’s life cycle and uses. 

Sample Pages: These were suggested by Cookie Monster (7yo) because they were his favorite pages of the book. He liked the seed pods (he thinks they’re cool) and the lotus roots (again, thinks the shapes are cool).

Rating: 3/5 stars

5 Minute Review: Other than an occasional difficult vocabulary word, this text was clear and easy to read and understand. 

The pictures are vibrant and the text informative. Cookie Monster found it reasonably interesting and read through the book very quickly. 

Despite me having to look up plant specific terms and a few phrases, the terms were easy to explain and understand. 

I didn’t realize Chinese folks ate so much of the lotus plant – that it was more than just pretty. In fact, there can be 2-3 harvests! (Flowers, seeds, and roots.)

Below is a video of Cookie Monster reading an excerpt from 蓮花 (lian2 hua)/Lotus Flower. 

彩色點點 Book Review

Title: 彩色點點 (cai3 se4 dian3 dian3)/Mix It Up!

ISBN: 9789577625298

Author/Illustrator: Hervé Tullet

Publisher: 上誼

Level: Chinese Picture Book, Fiction

Summary: Gives instructions to the reader (eg: trace the line, find the dot, press the dot, etc) and goes on an “adventure” with the reader in tow. Very interactive.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 5/5 stars

5 Minute Review: All my children love Tullet’s books and this one is no exception. Cookie Monster (7) and Gamera (5) can read most of the characters (there is no zhuyin) and so can I. I still have to look up the occasional character, but mostly, I can guess them from context.

Again, it is Glow Worm (3.5) who LOVES this book (much like he loves the other two in the series).

The illustrations are fun and interactive and teach a lot about color mixing. I don’t know if Glow Worm understands half of it, but he loves screaming out the colors and my other two kids love the “mixing” and “magic” of the series.

Highly recommend.

海豚 Book Review

Title: 海豚 (hai3 tun2)/Dolphins

ISBN: 9779861615189

Author/Photographer: 作者/信誼基金出版社丶黑潮海洋文教基金會

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Non-Fiction, Science, Chinese Picture Book, Beginning Reader, Zhuyin

Summary: This book tells us all about dolphins. Where do they live? What kinds of dolphins are there? What do they eat? How do they communicate? Lots of pictures.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 5/5 stars

5 Minute Review: Cookie Monster (7) enjoyed this book a lot. He loved all the facts and the mostly simple language. I was very pleased with the simple language because sometimes the science vocabulary is over my head let alone Cookie Monster’s.

He loved all the pictures, the multitude of science facts, and all the new things he learned about dolphins. All of which he promptly regurgitated as he told Gamera (5) all about the book and what he learned.

He even exclaimed at the end that he really liked the book because it was easy to read as well as interesting. It helped that I supplemented with videos of a live dolphin birth as well as with videos of dolphins playing.

Highly recommend.

Below is a video of Cookie Monster reading an excerpt of the book. Also, a video I found of a live dolphin birth. Cookie Monster made me replay a few times. Then he made Gamera and Glow Worm watch. In the name of science.