Children’s Book Review: The Nian Monster

Multiculturalism Rocks! Children’s Book Review: The Nian Monster
Book Title: The Nian Monster
Author: Andrea Wang
Illustrator: Alina Chau
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co.
Age Range: 4 – 8

Happy Chinese New Year! 2019 marks the Year of the Pig, the symbol of wealth
and fortune.
Image credit: ChineseNewYear.net
To celebrate, I’m excited to share this gem of a story, The Nian Monster, which was also 
recently named an APALA Honor book!

As they hang the traditional decorations for their new year celebration, Xingling’s
grandmother explains that these adornments have served as protection from the wicked
Nian monster. Filled with hunger at the start of the year, Nian would gobble up entire
villages – but, then the people figured out how to keep him away.

“Every monster has a weakness. Nian had three – loud sounds, fire, and the color red.
Our traditions have kept Nian away ever since.”
 
Thousands of years later, Nian has returned and is threatening to eat Xinling and the
whole city. Now, it’s up to her to use her clever nature to outsmart the monster and
save the holiday.
This is not only a fun read, but it’s filled with interesting facts about China and its 
rich history.
 
“Nian’s wide, wicked jaws were stuck fast. The grandmothers had used only glutinous
rice flour. The stickiest kind! So sticky it had been used to build the Great Wall.”
Wang’s exhilarating storytelling matched with Chau’s vibrant illustrations makes this 
a truly riveting read for all ages.

BONUS! Alina Chau was kind enough to share a link to a DIY Lunar New Year
Celebration kit that you can do with kids. To download, click here.
Recommended for:
The little thinker
The future creator
The future storyteller
Learn More:
Andrea Wang
Alina Chau

Where to Buy:
Indiebound.org

Children’s Book Review: All Are Welcome

Multiculturalism Rocks! Children’s Book Review: All Are Welcome
Author: Alexandra Penfold
 Illustrator: Suzanne Kaufman
 Publisher: Knopf Books for Young People
 Age Range: 4 – 8 years  

One of my favorite days of the year is finally here:
Multicultural Children’s Book Day! #ReadYourWorld
Founded by co-creators Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, this day was created to 
amplify and celebrate books a desperately needed for a multicultural world view in
children’s literature. They define multicultural children’s books as:
 
·  Books that contain characters of color as well as main characters that represent a
minority point of view.

·  Books written by and author of diversity or color from their perspective.
Search #ownvoices to discover diverse books written by diverse authors.

·  Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion,
language, and traditions. These books can be non-fiction, but still written in a way
that kids will find entertaining and informative.

·  Books that embrace special needs or even “hidden disabilities” like ADHD,
ADD, and anxiety.
(From the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website)

For this week’s book review, I found the incredibly inspiring book All Are Welcome.
Sparse in words, what is there carries an impact that lingers after the last page
has been turned. As we follow a group of children through their school day,
Penfold reminds us that differences are what makes a community:
 
“No matter how you start your day.
What you wear when you play.
Or if you come from far away.
 
All are welcome here.”

If you read my last book review, you’ll know immediately why I fell in love with this book. Aside from the beautiful message and art, Penfold and Kaufman pay homage to the great poet, Dr. Maya Angelou. In the below illustration, we see a teacher (who looks a lot like Angelou) reading Life Doesn’t Frighten Me. It gave me goosebumps the moment I saw it.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by the talented Suzanne Kaufman, 
embodies everything the Multicultural Children’s Book Day strives to achieve. It is a
beautiful portrayal of how every child should feel: that no matter what, they deserve to
have a safe place in this world. 

"We’re part of a community.
Our strength is our diversity.
A shelter from adversity.
 
All are welcome here." 
Learn More:
 Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld
Alexandra Penfold
Suzanne Kaufman

Where to Buy:
Indiebound.org