Happy new year!

No, we’re not three weeks late. We’re actually one day early. Monday is Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year because it’s based on the phases of the moon.)

In Chinese tradition each year is associated with one of 12 animals. Monday begins the Year of the Dragon. Pretty cool.

We found three wonderful books that celebrate kids and Chinese culture. Reading them might be a great way to welcome in the Year of the Dragon.

KidsPost 1.22.12 A New Year's Reunion (twp scan)

→“A New Year’s Reunion” by Yu Li-Qiong; illustrated by Zhu Cheng Liang. $15.99. Age 5 and older.

This beautiful picture book tells the story of Maomao, a Chinese girl whose father works so far from home that he only returns for Chinese New Year. The book describes all the things that Maomao and her dad do during this visit: They make sticky rice balls, watch the dragon parade and play in the snow. But soon, too soon for Maomao and her family, it’s time for her father to say goodbye and return to work. This story celebrates not just the new year but also the family.

→ “Crouching Tiger” by Ying Chang Compestine; illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. $16.99. Age 6 and older.

This is another picture book that has a story that can be enjoyed by all kids (and their parents). Vinson is a Chinese American boy who is excited when his grandfather comes for a visit. At first, he wants to learn tai chi, which his grandfather does, thinking that it will be like kung fu. But the slow movements quickly bore Vinson, who is also a little embarrassed by his grandfather. When Grandpa makes Vinson wear a Chinese jacket to the new year parade, Vinson can’t stand it. But the way he and his grandfather are treated at the parade causes him to change his mind. As an added bonus, the book includes drawings of tai chi moves that you can try yourself.

→ “Dumpling Days” by Grace Lin. $15.99. Age 9 and older.

KidsPost 1.22.12 book: Dumpling Days (twp scan)

This is the third book by Grace Lin featuring Pacy Lin. (The first two books were “The Year of the Dog” and “The Year of the Rat.”) Pacy lives happily with her mom, dad and two sisters in the small town of New Hartford, New York. Then one day, her parents announce that the family is going to Taiwan for a month to celebrate her grandmother’s 60th birthday. (That’s significant because she has lived through the 12 animals of the Chinese calendar five times, which is considered lucky). At first Pacy is excited because she will get to learn Chinese painting while she is there. But when she arrives she finds the idea of a month in a foreign country very difficult. She can’t speak the language, she’s having trouble making friends and she doesn’t like all the food. Will this month be the worst, or the best, of Pacy’s life?

— Tracy Grant