As The Nian Monster begins, Xingling and her grandmother, Po Po, are getting ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Shanghai. As they hang the last of the lanterns, Xingling asks Po Po why New Year’s decorations are always all red.
The Nian Monster
Po Po explains that there’s a monster called Nian who, on the first day of the year, would eat whole villages! But the Nian Monster was afraid of fire, loud sounds, and the color red. So every year, the New Year’s celebration features all the things the Nian Monster hates. That has kept the monster away for thousands of years.
But when Po Po goes to the store and leaves Xingling tending the soup, the Nian Monster returns! He’s no longer afraid. He’s just hungry. Very, very hungry. And he’s decided to have Xingling as an appetizer, before he eats the city.
Xingling quickly suggests that the Nian Monster should eat long life noodles before he eats her, so he can live long enough to eat lots of cities. The Nian Monster agrees – and by the time he’s done eating the special noodles Xingling arranged for him, he’s too full to eat Xingling or the city!
Twice more Xingling saves herself and the city with her quick wit and culinary specialties.
And while the story is about a monster, it isn’t scary. In fact, the story may comfortably familiar. Xingling will remind you of The Gruffalo, or the Billy Goats Gruff, or any number of other tiny tricksters who save themselves from trolls or monsters or predators. If you know those stories, it’s easy to predict how this story will turn out.
And author Andrea Wang never leaves any doubt that Xingling will save herself and her city. Each time Xingling suggests another snack, the Nian Monster says, “You are wise, little one.” And with that repeated phrase, the monster says more than he knows. Xingling is indeed wise. And she outwits the Xian Monster every time.
Illustrator Alina Chau’s water color illustrations are bright and light and colorful. And the Xian Monster himself is almost unbearably cute, with enormous eyes and a toothy grin that amuses rather than threatens.
Xingling has the big, bright eyes of an anime character. She’s the only one in the book who does. It certainly makes her stand out in a crowd.
So much to learn
The Xian Monster offers a lot for a child (or an adult!) to learn about Shanghai and about Chinese New year. But Wang and Chau keep the focus firmly on the story, and on Xingling. As a result, the story doesn’t come across as didactic. When they’re introducing important landmarks from Shanghai, you never feel like they’re offering a geography lessons. When Po Po tells the story of the Xian Monster, it doesn’t seem forced. It’s just a conversation between a grandmother and her granddaughter.
The book includes a brief Author’s Note with extra information about Chinese New Year’s celebrations.
Chinese New Year is on February 16 this year, so you’ve still got plenty of time to get a copy of The Xian Monster!
Multicultural Children’s Book Day
I received a copy of The Nian Monster from author Andrea Wang as part of the celebration of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. All children need multicultural books, and I’m proud to support MCBD as a silver sponsor.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs
BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press
2018 Author Sponsors
Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.
Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
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