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 The Asian Reporter's
BOOK REVIEWS


"Round are the lanterns outside my room …"

 

From The Asian Reporter, V14, #17 (April 20, 2004), page 11.

Great shapes

 

Round Is a Mooncake

By Roseanne Thong
Illustrated by Grace Lin
Scholastic, 2000
Hardcover, 33 pages, $14.95

By Josephine Bridges

Round is a mooncake

Round is the moon

Round are the lanterns

outside my room …

A Chinese girl takes readers on a tour of the shapes around us in this lovely little book. A fine tour guide and teacher, she concludes her description of circles by asking, "What other round things do you see?" In the accompanying illustration are additional items to discover.

Square is a checkerboard

in the park

Square is my name chop’s

inky mark …

Those who read Chinese better than I do can learn the narrator’s name from the accompanying picture, and the rest of us can enjoy the beauty of her ideogram. "I can name more square things, can you?" she asks, encouraging the reader to look around his or her own environment for squares.

Rectangles are

inking stones

Paintbrush racks

and mobile phones …

In the accompanying illustration, our narrator has just finished writing the ideogram for "big" below the one for "small." Taped on the wall behind her (with rectangular tape) are rectangular pieces of paper with other ideograms and brush paintings. Nearby, her father is speaking on a cell phone.

Round Is a Mooncake ends with the rectangles essential in a bedtime story, and also contains explanations of some of the shapes included here. "Goldfish," for example, "Symbolize wealth and chase away evil spirits."

Roseanne Thong has written a treasure of an early reader not only for Chinese children, but for all children, who will no doubt learn their favorite verses by heart.

Grace Lin’s lovely illustrations are full of surprises that enhance the delightful simplicity of the narrative. The illustrator also won my heart with her dedication to "Alvina Ling, my seventh grade science fair partner."

Round Is a Mooncake gets better every time I read it.

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books

  Amazon