D Is for Dragon Dance

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From firecrackers to noodles, from red envelopes to the zodiac, young readers are introduced to the exciting traditions of Chinese New Year in this accessible and visually stunning homage to the holiday.
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From firecrackers to noodles, from red envelopes to the zodiac, young readers are introduced to the exciting traditions of Chinese New Year in this accessible and visually stunning homage to the holiday.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The team behind The Story of Chopsticks and The Story of Noodles rings in the Chinese New Year with D Is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine, illus. by Yongsheng Xuan. Each letter of the alphabet introduces a different aspect of the celebration (e.g., "E is for evil spirits/ F is for Firecrackers"), followed by a brief explanation ("Dragon dancers and firecrackers care away evil spirits"). Other colorful customs include dragon dancing, kite-flying plus steamed dumplings and Peking duck feasts, all adding up to wishes for long life, happiness and good luck in the New Year. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
From A to Z, this entire book is about celebrating the Chinese New Year. Extraordinarily colorful illustrations depict families preparing to celebrate the New Year with traditional decorations, activities, and foods. Each alphabet letter, shown in uppercase, stands for a particular aspect of the fifteen-day-long celebration. "C is for Calligraphy/ Let's write the characters for 'good luck.' Don't get the ink on your new clothes." This is a perfect example of how the author ties the different traditions together: one should put on new clothes for the New Year so that evil spirits will not recognize you in the New Year. This explanation comes with "H is for Haircut," where we also learn that a new haircut symbolizes a "fresh start" in the New Year. The emphasis is on how traditions are passed down through the generations and how families find unity ("U is for Unity") in celebrating together using the ancient customs. Many facts are tucked into the very simple sentences, making this book extremely suitable for the pre-K and primary grades. The back matter includes details for adults to share with young readers: a Chinese Zodiac calendar, an artist's note, and a recipe for dumplings, eaten during the New Year celebrations to bring good luck. The use of beautiful calligraphy in the background gives this title an authentic flavor that will enhance its value in approaching multicultural studies with younger listeners. 2006, Holiday House, Ages 3 to 7.
—Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-In this alphabetical celebration of the Chinese New Year, a boy and a girl prepare for the festivities with their family. Each page or full spread, representing one letter, includes such headings as "A is for Acrobats," "I is for Incense," and "P is for Peking Duck." One- to two-sentence subtitles under some of these headings explain the traditions. The "Z is for Zodiac" page includes a circular chart to allow children to find their own Chinese sign. The back matter includes an author's note on the traditions surrounding the New Year, an artist's note on the calligraphy appearing in the background, and a recipe for dumplings. While Compestine's text is well researched, many of her subtitles are written in an uneven tone, vacillating between a second- and third-person voice. The art makes up for the patchy text and depicts the vibrancy and color of the celebrations as they occur in modern China. Done in watercolor, acrylic, and latex, it features stylized, richly colored figures layered on subtle, full-page calligraphic designs. Young readers will enjoy observing the antics of a playful cat on each spread. Overall, this vivid introduction is sure to fascinate youngsters new to the traditions of this holiday.-Rachel G. Payne, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Compestine offers a simple introduction to the Chinese New Year in the form of an alphabet book, but the information provided is slight. "V is for Veneration" is explained with the enigmatic line, "Families venerate their ancestors at New Year's." Not a very meaningful sentence, though the illustration showing a family bowing in front of an altar offers clues. The jewel-like paintings of a traditional Chinese family (complete with an incongruous TV and an electric fan) celebrating the holiday by donning new clothes, getting haircuts, making paper cuts, bringing oranges to friends and eating ceremonial foods are engaging. A playful yellow cat cavorts with a mouse throughout, adding more child appeal. There is another, more subtle design element: The artist has used four different calligraphic styles to create backgrounds on each page. An author's note offers a little more explanation of the festival, but this visual treat should be supplemented by something more substantial. A recipe for dumplings and a Chinese Zodiac chart are included. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823418879
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

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    It's a given that we can learn a great deal from other cultures, other customs, and there's not a better time to start than when we're young. 'D Is For Dragon Dance' is both entertaining and educational as it tells about the Chinese New Year with all its color and unique traditions (my favorite is how youngsters greet the New Year by honoring their parents!) An alphabet book, it begins with 'A is for Acrobats,' takes us through to K and L for Kites and Lanterns, then concludes with 'Z is for Zodiac,' explaining that the Chinese calendar is a 12 year cycle with each year represented by a different animal. Yongsheng Xuan has created boldly colored full page illustrations in watercolor, acrylic and latex. They're all eye-poppers. Also included is an author's note with tips to ensure good fortune in the New Year (clean the house before the New Year starts and light firecrackers to scare off evil spirits, etc.) Plus, there's a recipe for dumplings called 'New Year's Dumpling Delight.' 'D is for Dragon Dance' is a sure kid pleaser bound to elicit lots of interesting dinner table conversations. - Gail Cooke

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