In Natasha Yim’s picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, a familiar fairy tale is retold through a Chinese cultural lens and presents readers with a delightful riff on the traditional Goldilocks yarn. All the basic memes appear: the bowls of porridge, the chairs and the beds but with an Asian twist. Several elements of Chinese culture appear scattered throughout the story: Chinese New Year, turnip cakes fried to perfection, red envelops, almond cookies, dumplings and so much more. Illustrator Grace Yong uses bright acrylics to bring the story to life. Subtle details reinforce the Chinese flavor of the story.
The ending delivers a delightful surprise: Goldy Luck returns to the “scene of the crime” to make things right. Her effort is warmly received and she becomes friends with Little Chan.
The Author’s Note at the end of the story includes additional information about the Chinese Zodiac and the traditions surrounding Chinese New Year holiday observances which follow the lunar calendar. I rate Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas five stars
AQ Lens: Young readers will immediately recognize the Goldilocks similarity in Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, and will enjoy this ethnic spin on the familiar tale. This book highlights the fun and richness of experiencing the ordinary and familiar through a new lens. The difference transforms and enlivens the tale.
It is an easy segue into discussions about what other parts of an adoptive family are fundamentally the same yet different. Talking points can highlight that different does not mean less than or better than but simply different. Difference can be seen as an added facet, like the way sugar enlivens the taste of food.
Zong’s detailed illustrations invite exploration as readers search for the cultural spin on the ordinary backdrop of daily life. Challenge them to find something in every illustration. Ask them to imagine Goldilocks meeting Goldy Luck and have them tell you what the two might say and do.
A Full Moon Is Rising focuses on other moon festivals around the world and introduces children to a broader, world-wide sense of how people celebrate feasts and festivals. Commonalities and differences abound–we all celebrate events and cycles, we simply accomplish the observances in different ways. Once again, difference is served up as something to be appreciated instead of scorned.
Marilyn Singer’s poems which vary in style and length capture the flavor of the culture being highlighted. Julia Cairns’ watercolor illustrations create a dreamy mood and complement the poetry well. As with any good picture book, the illustrations invite exploration for details that are not specifically stated in the text. I rate A Full Moon Is Rising four stars
AQ Lens: Young readers respond to poetry and can find connection in this lovely book as they recall celebrating various holidays, festivals and family traditions in their own families. Adoptive families can further their discussions by talking about the many ways adoptive families observe adoption-connected events.
(Parents should keep in mind that some adoptees find celebrations of their birthdays, arrival days, etc., to be emotional landmines. Some kids like to celebrate; others find themselves very stressed by them. And sometimes, they don’t even recognize the adoption connection as the trigger. Parents will need to be sensitive to this possibility. Please read another blog I wrote on Homecoming/Gotcha Day for additional discussion. )