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Author: Ying Chang Compestine

Illustrator: Yan Nascimbene

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Publisher: Candlewick,

Material: hard cover

Summary: The story’s main character, a boy named Vinson, comes to understand his culture better when his grandfather visits from China. The interaction between the two reveals some interesting things that the little boy did not really understand about martial arts and Chinese customs. This picture book not only explains Tai Chi, but also covers some of the customs that are part of the Chinese New Year’s celebration.

Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read, transitional reader

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 4 and Up

Reading Level: 3.4

Age of Child: Shared with a second grade class.

Young Reader Reaction: I asked a friend to share it with her class, and they loved it.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is an excellent book that provides a very good introduction to the Chinese New Year’s celebration. The illustrations complement the story very well.

Pros: Readers will enjoy very nice illustrations and lots of good information that is worked into the flow of the narrative.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a wonderful book.


Educational Themes: Although the emphasis of the book is on introducing Chinese culture and customs (New Year, dragon dancers, Tai Chi), the relationship between Vinson and his grandfather offer opportunities to talk about family, learning from our elders, and other cross-generational topics.

Notes: Bob Walch, Monterey, California, sent us this review. Bob's reviews appear in the Salinas Californian, Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, Aptos Times, Ride/Western Times and Coast Views Magazine. His online reviews can be found at MyShelf, Roundtable Reviews, Parent Click, Midwest Book Review, and I Love a Mystery.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, cultures and tradition, family, grandparents, multicultural

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2012

Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews at; and reviews and reader feedback at


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