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Crouching Tiger

Overview

A Chinese-American boy gains a new understanding of his Chinese grandfather in this celebratory story of family, martial arts, and the Chinese New Year.

Vinson is very excited when his grandfather comes from China for a visit. When Grandpa practices tai chi in the garden, Vinson asks to learn, hoping it will be like kung fu, full of kicks and punches. But tai chi's meditative postures are slow and still, and Vinson quickly gets bored. He can't understand why Grandpa insists on ...

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Overview

A Chinese-American boy gains a new understanding of his Chinese grandfather in this celebratory story of family, martial arts, and the Chinese New Year.

Vinson is very excited when his grandfather comes from China for a visit. When Grandpa practices tai chi in the garden, Vinson asks to learn, hoping it will be like kung fu, full of kicks and punches. But tai chi's meditative postures are slow and still, and Vinson quickly gets bored. He can't understand why Grandpa insists on calling him by his Chinese name, Ming Da, or why he has to wear a traditional Chinese jacket to the Chinese New Year parade. As the parade assembles, however, he notices the great respect given to his grandfather and the lion dancers under his training. And when Vinson is offered a role in the parade, he realizes that being part Chinese can be pretty cool—and is ready to start learning from his grandpa's martial-arts mastery in earnest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nascimbene’s (First Grade Jitters) delicately drafted ink-and-watercolor artwork distinguishes this child-of-immigrants tale about Ming Da, who scorns his Chinese grandfather until Grandpa’s perfectly timed martial arts kick saves a stranger from injury. That gets Ming Da’s attention; he agrees to let Grandpa teach him tai chi, and when the New Year comes, the lion dance parade offers him a chance to show off his hard work to all of Chinatown. Compestine (The Runaway Wok) excels at portraying Ming Da’s embarrassment (“I jammed my headphones into my ears to avoid talking to Grandpa”), though more sentimental moments may put off jaded older readers (“ ‘Could you teach me, please?’ I asked in a low voice”). The beauty Nascimbene discovers in Ming Da’s suburban world—the leaves that fall around Ming Da as he practices, parade-goers scattered like confetti, the stars that accompany Ming Da and Grandpa on the way home—echoes the beauty Ming Da eventually finds in Grandpa’s tai chi poses. Readers will warm to the duo’s growing friendship and the gifts that come as Ming Da allows himself to enter Grandpa’s world. Ages 6–10. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
Poignant but not treacly, CROUCHING TIGER deals with an immigrant child's conflicting emotions toward a grandparent from the old country...Nascimbene's delicate ink and watercolor illustrations are exquisite.
—The New York Times

The beauty Nascimbene discovers in Ming Da's suburban world-the leaves that fall around Ming Da as he practices, parade-goers scattered like confetti, the stars that accompany Ming Da and Grandpa on the way home-echoes the beauty Ming Da eventually finds in Grandpa's tai chi poses. Readers will warm to the duo's growing friendship and the gifts that come as Ming Da allows himself to enter Grandpa's world.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Our young narrator's grandfather comes to visit from China. In the morning, he sees his grandfather practicing the ancient martial art of tai chi, and asks if he will teach it to him. Vinson, or Ming Da as his grandfather calls him, finds tai chi very hard at first. But when his father saves a young woman by breaking a board that is falling on her, Vinson goes back to working with him. At the time of the Chinese New Year parade, Vinson does not want his friends to see him wearing the fancy jacket his grandfather gives him. In crowded Chinatown the next day, Grandpa's friends give Vinson the traditional envelopes with money. Then he joins the lion parade. Ming Da promises to do his best to learn the martial arts. He is no longer ashamed of his jacket, or his grandfather, but is proud. Full page ink and watercolor illustrations face lengthy text pages, with a small drawing showing a tai chi position below the text. The pictures are naturalistic, but exude an appropriate quality of stillness and neatness. Bits of Chinese culture along with information about traditional exercises add to the appeal of Vinson's story. A note includes information about Chinese martial arts and about the Chinese New Year celebration, along with a glossary. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—When Vinson's grandfather visits from China, he does a weird slow dance in the backyard. It's a martial art called tai chi. The child wants to learn, but it involves a lot of standing still and meditating, and he worries that he'll never learn cool kicks and punches like they do in kung fu movies. Vinson soon becomes embarrassed by his grandfather, but he changes his mind when the man prevents a potentially harmful accident with one well-placed high kick. Vinson starts learning tai chi again, just in time for the lion dance at the Chinese New Year parade. Children will empathize with the boy's desires to do more than stand still and his frustrations at not learning how to kick, punch, and hit things. Grandfather's lessons on inner peace and patience are often met with realistic resistance. Nascimbene's watercolor and ink illustrations are at their best during the festival scenes. Each page also includes a tai chi stance. An explanatory note at the end offers more information about tai chi and other Chinese schools of martial arts.—Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD
Kirkus Reviews
Discipline and warmth bring a child and his Chinese grandfather closer together. When his grandfather comes for a visit from China, Vinson is fascinated by the dance the older man practices in the garden: "His hands moved like gliding birds. He crouched like a tiger; he drew an invisible bow." Vinson is encouraged by the older man to try a standing meditation. For a boy most interested in action-packed martial arts, Vinson is surprised to find this quiet way of gaining strength a challenge, but the payoff--holding aloft the cabbage for the dragon in the New Year's parade--is wonderful. Compestine creates a simple portrait of a familiar cultural bridge, conveying Vinson's awe, shyness and embarrassment about his serious grandfather. Nascimbene captures both the compact energy of the small boy and the graceful, composed grace of the adult. His contained, quiet style with warm colors nicely matches the low-key narrative. The text appears on the left-hand page along with small captioned illustrations of a young boy moving through the positions of the form. The right-hand pages develop the story in charming ink-and-watercolor glimpses of Vinson alone or with his grandfather. A celebration of family and Chinese New Year along with a simple introduction to Wudang martial arts, especially tai chi--and to the idea that strength can be gentle. (Picture book. 5-9)
Pamela Paul
Poignant but not treacly…Nascimbene's delicate ink and watercolor illustrations are exquisite.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763646424
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 12/13/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 535,940
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ying Chang Compestine is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY as well as several picture books and a collection of short stories, A BANQUET FOR HUNGRY GHOSTS. Ying Chang Compestine lives in California.

Yan Nascimbene, an award-winning illustrator of many books for children, has illustrated more than three hundred book covers for publishers all over the world. His editorial illustrations have appeared in Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and many other publications. Yan Nascimbene lives in the south of France and in California.

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