Book Reviews, Bookishness, Mamaishness

A book for Chinese New Year.

We aren’t Chinese, nor do we have close Chinese friends, so we don’t really celebrate Chinese New Year. However, I found an amazing little book the other day, and I thought you might like to know about it.

A New Year's Reunion

A New Year’s Reunion, by Yu Li-Qiong with pictures by Zhu Cheng-Liang, tells the story of one family’s new year celebration. The family’s father works far away, and only travels home once a year for the holiday. During the course of the story, young Maomao must both readjust to having her father home and come to terms with the fact that he will leave again shortly.

While the traditional New Year’s customs are a part of the story, they are not its focus. Instead, the book focuses on the family’s relationship and everyday life in the town where the family lives. There are fireworks, rice cakes, and a dragon parade, but the family also repairs their home and makes a snowman.

The pictures tell as much of the story as the text. There is a gentle quality to the paintings that enhances the book’s overall tone. They also do a marvelous job of combining the traditions of the New Year celebration with the trappings of modern life. The image of the mother packing the father’s suitcase to leave again is particularly moving.

A New Year's Reunion

There are no pat answers here, no magical income sources that keep the family together. A New Year’s Reunion tells the very true story of families where a parent works far away. For that reason it has the potential to connect with many children who face separation due to work in this country, including those in military families and migrant farming families.

A New Year's Reunion

Our girls loved this book. Even though we don’t face the challenges of having a parent working far away, there is still plenty of familiarity in the story. They particularly liked this illustration of the family snuggled together. If you like warm stories of family life,  A New Year’s Reunion is definitely worth checking out, and my guess is that it will become a favorite for you, as it has for me.

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