Reading level: Ages 3-8
Pages: 40 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May, 2004)
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
From School Library Journal
The Chinese-American girl introduced in Round Is a Mooncake (2000) and Red Is a Dragon (2001, both Chronicle) counts her favorite things. In bouncy verse, she engages in activities with her multicultural friends and family: "Five are the fish balls/on a stick./Five are the fingers/that I lick." Some of the items are Asian in origin (dragon boat, dim sum carts, bamboo) and others, like her Dalmatian puppy, are not. Most of the objects are quite distinct and easy to count, thanks to Lin's characteristically simple, uncluttered, gouache illustrations. A glossary gives two-sentence explanations for the Asian elements, from Eight Immortals to mahjong tiles, adding versatility and ethnic interest to the book without intruding on its simplicity. While the concept is not a new one, the presentation has enough freshness, clarity, and gorgeous traditional Chinese colors to make it enormously engaging.
Besides offering a little practice in counting from 1 to 10, this colorful picture book introduces aspects of traditional Chinese culture. Each double-page spread includes a large, horizontal painting illustrating a rhyme such as "Four are the friends / who play mahjong / Four are the songbirds / that chirp along." Not all the activities shown are distinctively Asian, and a multicultural crew of children are the participants. The rhymes provide a pleasing framework for the book, and Lin's striking artwork gives it great visual appeal. Bold, black outlines define the forms, while the vibrant colors and decorative patterns bring them to life. On the last page, Thong discusses topics mentioned in the text, such as the Dragon Boat Festival, dim sum, and the Eight Immortals. An appealing counting book, particularly for Chinese American children who want to learn a little about their heritage.
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