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CUSTOMS & CELEBRATIONS. Whether you’re young or old, Carolyn Otto’s Celebrate Chinese New Year, published by National Geographic Kids, is a fun and educational read.

From The Asian Reporter, V30, #02 (January 20, 2020), page 11.

Young and old will learn from this Lunar New Year book

Celebrate Chinese New Year

By Carolyn Otto

National Geographic Kids, 2009

Paperback, 32 pages, $7.99

By Kathleen Liermann

The Asian Reporter

Have you ever wondered about the many traditions celebrated during the Lunar New Year? Whether you’re young or old, Carolyn Otto’s Celebrate Chinese New Year, published by National Geographic Kids, is a fun and educational read.

Bright and colorful photos might be the first thing readers notice in Otto’s 32-page paperback — a shiny gold lion dancer gracefully jumping in the air; decorated lanterns hanging and blossoms floating near a tea house; hard-boiled eggs dyed the lucky color red; sparkling fireworks against a dark sky; and much more.

Family and friends around the world gather for the New Year. In China, the season begins with people flocking to train stations and airports as part of a nationwide Spring Festival travel ritual that results in about 3 billion trips in the country in five weeks. Big Lunar New Year celebrations are also held in Vietnam, Korea, and other countries.

Before the kickoff of Chinese festivals, everyone has work to do — shopping for presents, new clothes, and food, and cleaning homes, streets, and stores to sweep away bad luck.

Colorful decorations are put in place — red is a lucky color and the color gold is believed to bring wealth — and notes in red paper are hung around doorways.

And then there’s the food — plenty of food. Dried fruit, oranges, and candy are given to visitors to ensure a sweet future. A whole fish means there will be plenty of food to eat, long noodles represent long life, and dumplings are crescent-shaped like ancient gold nuggets.

On New Year’s Eve, bright clothing is worn, people sing, and music and games are played. At midnight, doors and windows are opened to let the old year out and invite the new year in. People then bang drums and fireworks are lit.

When New Year’s Day arrives, respects are paid to elders; ancestors are honored; children receive presents and red envelopes filled with new, crisp money and good wishes; and new clothes are worn.

Traditional Chinese New Year festivities last 15 days; today, some last about a week. Celebrations often include lion dances, pageants, parades, shows, visits to family and friends, eating special foods, and more.

The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of traditional Chinese festivals. The evening features many, many lanterns with the moon as a backdrop, dragon dances, and more.

By the end of the book, readers have learned everything needed to start the New Year right. Having honored families, danced, and more, the end of winter has been celebrated and the promise of spring is welcomed.

Another treat in Celebrate Chinese New Year is found near the back of the book. Readers will be pleasantly surprised to discover directions to make a Chinese lantern, a recipe for homemade fortune cookies, a glossary, the origins of the Chinese New Year, information about the lunar calendar, and more. Otto’s book is full of large colorful photos young children will enjoy as well

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