Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Chinese New Year - The Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon flames into life at Auckland Libraries from 18th January. The zodiac sign of the dragon flies in to mark the start of the lunar new year. The lunar new year is one of the biggest celebrations in the East and is an event that is celebrated all over the world.


Join us at Auckland Libraries to explore Eastern culture and traditions of the Year of the Dragon with a variety of exciting FREE activities, displays, stories and presentations at our 55 libraries. Find out what's happening at a library near you on our events website including our storytimes for little dragons.



For all those kids out there doing Dare to Explore and who want to know more about China and Chinese New Year, have a look at this selection of books I have read recently.



Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! By Demi. Small simple and colourful, this books describes the traditions that surround Chinese New year, when you sweep out the old, start anew with dragons dancing, feasts and gifts. Just like Matariki it is in harmony with the seasonal cycle of harvesting and planting. Like many festivals around the world there is food and we are introduced to some of the delicacies of the festival. Dragons, fireworks and lights scare away the evil spirits. This is a delightful picture book to introduce this cultural festival which is part of our city.


A Ghost in my suitcase By Gabrielle Wang. I loved this book. I thought I would say that right off the bat. It’s a fantastic story of a young girl who has lost her mother and who travels back to China to visit her grandmother and release her mum’s ashes in the place of her birth. But it is much more exciting than that as Celeste uncovers family secrets and dangers… and a gift she didn’t know she had. The title should have been a clue to the ghosts in the story, but somehow I missed that. As well as the ghosts we are also introduced to a new and different world through the eyes of a young Australian in a way that seems completely natural. Readers will be able to relate Celeste as she tells her impressions of China in a voice just like their own.

The Red Piano By Andre Leblanc and Barroux. This book, produced with the assistance of Amnesty International, is inspired by a true story of a young girl who grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1970’s. Educated young people were sent to camps to do manual labour to erase elitism. One such young girl dreams of her former life and her love of music. In the village outside the camp she goes to the house of Mother Han and plays on the old piano hidden in a back room. If she is discovered she will be punished and the piano destroyed. The hardship of the story is illustrated in tones of sepia with garish red accents. It is exceptionally well done and brings to the reader the story and the sense of this time in another country. Recommended.

Chinese New Year at Auckland Libraries continues until 11 February.

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