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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mooncakes, written by Loretta Seto and illustrated by Renne Benoit. Orca Book Publishers, 2013. $19.95 ages 4 and up

"Outside, we light paper
lanterns. I made one all by
myself, using my favorite
colors. The lanterns and
stars light up the sky.
The moon makes
everything shine like
silver and water. In our
backyard, we sit together
in a big chair."

I like books that help us understand other cultures of the world. While the Moon Festival celebrated by Chinese families happens in the summertime, now seems a good time to be talking about special family times.

Our narrator is a small girl and she helps us understand the joys of the festival itself...looking at the moon, paper lanterns lit by tiny candles, tasty mooncakes and stories told with love. She is happy to share her family's traditions.

Hers is a lovely story told with all the gentleness that family times evoke. Included in her narration are three traditional folktales from China: they concern a cruel man who mistreats his wife until she finds a means of escape, a sluggish lumberjack who can't cut down a cinnamon tree for the life of him, a selfless rabbit who offers to save three magicians from certain death.

The paintings that accompany are just right...they are equally quiet, using soft colors and moonlit images of the family sharing the spirit of the festival. The feeling changes as the story switches from the traditional tales to the food being shared. It is magical and touching, and very exciting for our young narrator.

A cozy chair, a cup of tea and a mooncake to share with a loving family!

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