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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lunar New Year: A Book and Some Fun Crafts

Story of the Chinese Zodiac (English/Chinese)
retold by Monica Chang
illustrated by Arthur Lee
English translation by Rick Charette

Bilingual books are fun, especially if one can read and understand both the languages therein. This is another hand-me-down book from D to the kids, much like the Shel Silverstein book and a few others. D got this book when he was learning Chinese, which he sort of remembers now, having not practised at all for many years...

Anyway, the general story of how the Chinese calendar associates an animal to each year, 12 animals in all which repeat over and over in cycles, is well-known. This books presents it in a child-friendly format, the pictures being the main attraction. Intricate paper cuttings and paper sculptures make this book a paper crafter's delight - just to ogle at for inspiration at least. And it seems to have caught the kids' attention too - both liked to pore over the pictures and study the details in every page.

And much like The Night Before Christmas, we bring it out only around the Lunar new Year celebrations and tuck it away soon after.

What would we do without the library? Our public library hosted a Lunar New Year Celebration program a few days ago. The prime attraction was the Lion Dance. The Lee's Association presented the Lion Dance, showed us the parts they use for the costume, explained what it is usually made up of (wicket basket, fur, fabric), and demonstrated how the dancer at the back stays bent and possibly squats down for most of the dance, and usually also picks up and holds the head dancer.

The drums and the vigorous movements were a bit much for Og who sought the safety of Papa's shoulders way at the back of the audience, whereas Ana and I were front-and-center along with other screaming kids, on the floor, feeling the thunder and the rush as the lion flapped its eyelids and butted heads with us.

Penny's Puppet Shows made the kids laugh and scream with joy sharing the story of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The story firmly lodged itself in both Ana's and Oggie's mind thanks to the book above and now the puppet show. They liked it so much that we caught two performances of it at two different libraries in our neighborhood.


Paper Lantern: I had wonderful dreams of getting Hong Bao envelopes and making gorgeous folded paper lanterns and fish and such. But, settled for the simplistic construction paper lantern. Ana was thrilled about making hers, she took it to school to share. The girl barely stays visible in her environment, turning on her cloaking mechanism at all times outside of home, so it was indeed nice that she felt comfortable enough to share this. Must've been the Lion Dance that invigorated her.

Wish Flags: Simple square pieces of paper linked together and hung up - each paper holding a wish or a hope.



Dragon Puppet: Followed the instructions here. Not as gorgeous as in the project link, but, it was fun to make.




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