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Review: My First Chinese Storybooks—That Is Wrong, That Is Wrong

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smcullen

This is a review of the children's book My First Chinese Storybooks—That Is Wrong, That Is Wrong, by Laurette Zhang, translated to Spanish by Yao Bei.  It was provided as part of a free giveaway from Sinolingua and coordinated with Chinese-Forums.com.   Many thanks, a hearty ‘gracias’ and 谢谢 to both Sinolingua and chinese-forums.com for providing this opportunity.

 

The book is 8x10 glossy-covered and the story is 21 pages, presented in Spanish and Chinese.  It also includes a CD with an mp3 Chinese recording of the story text.

 

The story is about Xiao Long, a helpful boy who tries to assist his family to prepare for Chinese New Year.  When they ask him to fetch objects he brings things that are almost, but not quite, what they had in mind prompting a response of “bù duì”.  In the end he gets it right and the family is pleased with his efforts. 

 

The design of the book helps us to teach by providing teaching tools.  As parents we may be willing, but not all of us feel we are effective teachers.  The teaching tools help us get the most out of the book:

First, there is a page of instructions, in both languages, on how to use the book, in effect, teaching us how to teach our young listeners.  

Second, there are 3 appendices, identifying key words, key phrases and suggested questions based on the text.  We can read the book several times with our young listeners, each time making it a new experience and drawing out additional information.

Third, I found the illustrations were a great instructional aid, presenting the story and showing what the family member had in mind when they made their request.   The illustrations also prompted me to ask additional questions. For example, what do the red signs on the doorposts say?  What are the writing tools used by grandfather to write the doorpost signs?  For those of us with non-Chinese heritage we can use this book to explore Chinese culture on our next visit to our local Chinese neighborhood

I test drove the book with a 10 year old who speaks neither Spanish nor Chinese. We followed the text and illustrations as we listened to the recording.  He had no problem in following the story and telling me how Xiao Long made his mistakes.

 

Possible improvements:   It would be nice if the CD included a Spanish reading of the story, giving a 2-way language benefit to the reader, especially if they are strong in Chinese but weak in Spanish.  I would also have enjoyed a few more relevant details in the illustrations could give us more to think about and prompt questions on the subject matter. 

 

In summary:   My First Chinese Storybooks—That Is Wrong, That Is Wrong is enjoyable and feature-rich. We benefit as readers and our young listeners benefit.  In short, our time is well-spent.  I can easily recommend it.

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