Bringing in the New Year with Grace Lin

h1 February 7th, 2008 by jules

Today is February 7th, the first day of the lunar year for 2008, and Grace Lin has stopped by to celebrate it with some illustrations from her newest picture book, the exuberant Bringing in the New Year (Alfred A. Knopf; January ’08).

I’ve had the pleasure of reading this new book all about the Chinese New Year, now more commonly called Lunar New Year and one of the most celebrated holidays in the world, as Grace explains in a spread at the close of the book whose purpose is to describe the many customs associated with the holiday. And these traditions are brought to vivid life in Grace’s book, which provides an introduction to the holiday for a preschool-aged audience. The book describes one family’s preparations for the celebration of the holiday — from sweeping the old year out of the house to hanging “spring-happiness poems” (red decorations featuring spring poems and good wishes) to making dumplings and cutting hair. “All this is done so the New Year can start fresh,” Grace writes in the final spread.

After preparations, the New Year feast begins, complete with firecrackers and lion dances to scare away evil spirits. At the close of the book, Grace devotes a joyous fold-out spread, pictured below, to the lucky dragon’s appearance after its “waking up” ceremony (painting in the eyes of the dragon, featured in the illustration which opens this post).

The book possesses abundant energy and Grace’s signature bold palette and buoyant swirls. The spare and immediate first-person, present-day tense places the young reader (or listener) right there in the action, and the afterword, describing the traditions and customs of the holiday, is inviting and includes just the right amount of background information on what is provided in the rest of the book — not too complicated and perfectly lucid.

The book features the same characters seen in Grace’s 2001 title Dim Sum for Everyone! and 2004’s Fortune Cookie Fortunes, both published by Alfred A. Knopf (these characters also happen to be Grace’s family).

Many thanks to Grace for sharing her beautiful illustrations with us, and to her we say: Xin Nián Kuài Lè!

{Note: 2008 is also the Year of the Rat and the year of Grace’s new intermediate-level novel of the same name (Little, Brown Young Readers; January ’08), a sequel to 2006’s The Year of the Dog. I’ve yet to read The Year of the Rat, but here is a recent, detailed review from Elizabeth Bird. Also, for a detailed review of Bringing in the New Year, see this post by Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader}.

2 comments to “Bringing in the New Year with Grace Lin”

  1. Thanks for sharing Grace’s pictures with us. They’re beautiful.

  2. Jules,

    Aren’t Grace’s illustrations awesome? I love her use of color and patterns and swirls. That foldout spread is gorgeous! I edited my Wednesday post at Blue Rose Girls to add a link to your review.

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