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NEW YEAR PREPARATION. Bringing in the New Year follows a Chinese-American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each family member lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, make dumplings, and more.
From The Asian Reporter, V24, #02 (January 20, 2014), page 10.
Anticipation and celebration of the New Year
Bringing in the New Year
By Grace Lin
Dragonfly Books, 2008
Paperback, 34 pages, $7.99
By Josephine Bridges
The Asian Reporter
Is the New Year coming?" asks the young narrator on the very first page of Grace Linís Bringing in the New Year, a story of a Chinese-American familyís preparations for one of the most celebrated holidays in the world. In the accompanying illustration, she stands with her parents and sisters, looking out a window at flakes of snow swirling in the wind. Her excitement is infectious, and even those of us who have welcomed many New Years canít help but get caught up in it.
There is a lot to do to welcome the New Year, and the family gets right to it: sweeping out the old year, hanging spring-happiness poems, making get-rich dumplings, getting a haircut, and dressing up for the New Year feast. "Now will the New Year come?"
Grace Lin increases the suspense with firecrackers popping and shimmering outside a window. "Are they bringing in the New Year?" asks the narrator. Not quite yet. The author has a few surprises in store, and youíll discover them when you read Bringing in the New Year, preferably with a child.
Grace Linís vivid illustrations perfectly complement her few well-chosen words, some of which are Chinese (with contextual clues). Snowflakes, patterns of clothing ó from Ba-Baís argyles to the narratorís new spring-green qi pao ó and background colors ó wintry white, warm yellow, and a crescendo of red ó evoke celebration alongside the narratorís thrilled words of anticipation.
If you, like me, arenít ready for Bringing in the New Year to end, youíll be pleased to see the two-page authorís note on its background of green spirals. Here youíll find in-depth explanations of the customs and traditions touched on briefly in the giddy narrative.
Hereís an example: "When a new dragon is used for a parade, it can be Ďwoken upí by an eye-opening ceremony. This simple ceremony paints in the eyes of the dragon so he can see the symbolic sun (the round shape carried by the parade leader). The dragon chases the sun around and around, ensuring that we will have many nights and days."
Bringing in the New Year can be seen as both a celebration of a familiar festival and an introduction to that festival. Children ó and adults ó well-acquainted with the festivities of the Lunar New Year will find Grace Linís storybook a delightful reminder, and those who want to learn more can begin their exploration here.
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