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  • An African Alphabet
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By author: Loretta Seto   Illustrated by: Renne Benoit
Selling Points: cultural celebrations, ethnic stories, stories passed down, Chang-E, Wu-Gang
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: Apr/01/2013
Lexile Level: AD700L
Pages: 32
Picture Book
Price:  $19.95
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Tonight the moon shines like a polished pearl, round and fat. It glows bigger and brighter than I have ever seen.
   Tonight is a special night.
   Tonight I am allowed to stay up late. Soon there will be mooncakes to eat, sweet and chewy. They are round like the moon. They make a circle for me and Mama and Baba. They make a circle for my family.
   Outside we light paper lanterns. I made one all by myself using my favorite colors. The lanterns and stars light up the sky. The moon makes everything shine like silver and water.

Mooncakes is the lyrical story of a young girl who shares the special celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival with her parents. As they eat mooncakes, drink tea and watch the night sky together, Mama and Baba tell ancient tales of a magical tree that can never be cut down, the Jade Rabbit who came to live on the moon and one brave woman's journey to eternal life. With a gentle focus on the importance of family, Mooncakes is both a perfect book for parent and child to read together, and an ideal choice for schools and libraries.
Library Media Connection - February 1, 2014
"A charming picturebook about a family spending time together...Silvery moonlight seems to touch the soft watercolor illustrations that accompany the flowing text."
Sal's Fiction Addiction blog - December 26, 2013
"A lovely story told with all the gentleness that family times evoke...The paintings that accompany are just right. They are equally quiet, using soft colors and moonlit images of the family sharing the spirit of the festival. The feeling changes as the story switches from the traditional tales to the food being shared. It is magical and touching, and very exciting for our young narrator. A cozy chair, a cup of tea and a mooncake to share with a loving family!"
Tucson Unified School District - June 1, 2013
"For the 2nd grade social studies curriculum and studies of other cultures, this is perfect."
Booklist - May 15, 2013
"A cozy family story rooted in tradition...Told from the child’s point of view, the narrative is simply written and nicely cadenced. The folktales offer an imaginative addition to the narrative as well as a window into Chinese legend. Created with colored pencils, watercolors, and gouache, the double-page illustrations create a series of warm family scenes and tableaux from folklore, all suffused with pale golden light. The many rounded shapes reinforce the sense of harmony that pervades the story."
School Library Journal - May 1, 2013
"A generous trim size and skillful use of white space usher readers into this loving story of a little girl and her family as they celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival...In the contemporary story, the mooncakes seem real enough to eat, the teapot and cups are beautifully rendered, and the night sky sparkles. This quiet gem will make an effective read-aloud to introduce the Moon Festival and Chinese culture."
Reading Today Online - April 17, 2013
"This simple story features evocative language...[and] the illustrations are filled with scenes of quiet celebration and soft colors."
Quill & Quire - April 1, 2013
"A lovely, touching story that functions well as both entertainment and an introduction to a snippet of Chinese culture...Seto seamlessly blends the contemporary storyline with the traditional narratives...Benoit's moody palette of muted greys, blues, greens, and oranges evokes the nighttime setting, giving way to unexpected pops of brighter colour when the narrative switches to folktales...A treat as sweet as the titular pastry."
Kirkus Reviews - March 15, 2013
"Warm and appealing watercolor-and-gouache illustrations show a young girl's family together as they light and hang lanterns, watch the glowing moon in the night sky, drink steaming tea and eat delicious mooncakes...The framework of a family celebration is effective and satisfying here, and listeners will enjoy curling up with their parents, learning about or re-experiencing some of the holiday traditions, hearing the funny and comforting stories, and perhaps even drifting off to sleep...Lovely."
CM Magazine - March 15, 2013
"The ancient stories feature rich vocabulary and intriguing images. Decorated with a scroll design and appearing in italics, the three tales also look ornate on the pages of the book. The young girl’s responses to the stories are reflective and full of wonder...Benoit's watercolour, coloured pencil and gouache illustrations present a warm, loving family sharing traditions...This is a wonderful book to introduce cultures and holidays. Highly Recommended."


CCBC Best Books, commended  CA  2013
Resource Links "The Year's Best", commended  CA  2013
CCBC Choices selection, commended  CA  2014

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