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The Asian Reporter's
BOOK REVIEWS


LUNAR NEW YEAR TRADITIONS. Chloe’s Lunar New Year, written by Lily LaMotte and Illustrated by Michelle Lee, informs readers about some Taiwanese Lunar New Year customs and traditions. The book is aimed at children between four and eight years old.

From The Asian Reporter, V34, #2 (February 5, 2024), page 9.

Honoring family and welcoming the Lunar New Year

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

By Lily LaMotte

Illustrations by Michelle Lee

HarperCollins, 2023

Hardcover, 40 pages, $18.99

By Kathleen Liermann

The Asian Reporter

We happened upon Chloe’s Lunar New Year, a book by Lily LaMotte, while browsing the Multnomah County Library website. Its bright cover featuring two children happily celebrating while surrounded by Lunar New Year items drew us in. We were delighted to discover we would soon learn more about the Taiwanese customs and traditions of Chloe and her family.

Immediately upon opening Chloe’s Lunar New Year, readers see the book’s endpapers full of family photos — exploring nature, eating noodles, posing for photobooth shots, taking a group selfie, the children experiencing life when they were very young. Cherishing and honoring family is a strong theme.

The story opens with Chloe exclaiming, "Lunar New Year! I can’t wait for reunion dinner tonight." The scene shows Chloe’s parents cleaning the house and hanging decorations while Chloe reads a book and her little brother Noah plays with his toys.

Mama says the whole family will attend the reunion dinner, which is typically held on the eve of the Lunar New Year. "And A-ma, too," Chloe says. "A-ma, too," Mama says, as Chloe’s father points to a photo of the children’s grandmother.

Soon it’s time to sweep out the old, with everyone receiving new shoes. Then they set the table and prepare everyone’s favorite new year dishes. Good-luck oranges are placed on the table and the family cooks crispy turnip cake, whole good-luck fish, hot pot with "see-through noodles," and dessert — apple pie — a nod to bringing their American and Taiwanese cultures together.

As Chloe and Noah finish decorating red envelopes with "whirls of color and a dust of gold," Auntie Le and Uncle Tony arrive with a tray of sticky fortune cakes for good luck in the new year.

With the reunion dinner table set and everyone in attendance — including A-ma in spirit — the family is ready for an evening of food, stories, laughter, joy, and more.

At the end of the book, in addition to an author’s note, readers will find a special treat — the author’s A-ma’s recipe for Fortune Cake (Huat-Kue). The only ingredients needed are brown sugar, hot water, baking powder, and rice flour. LaMotte says they taste "a lot like English sticky toffee pudding."

Chloe’s Lunar New Year is aimed at children between four and eight years old. It features watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations by Michelle Lee that help convey the importance of celebrating holiday traditions and being with loved ones.

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