A Sweet New Year for Ren, by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Dung Ho

Ren is a fun and interesting young girl who wants to help her mom, dad, uncle, aunt, and brother as they prepare for the lunar new year. When she asks to help put up red lanterns with her dad, her father says, “I’m afraid you’re still too little, Ren.”

Ren goes with her Mother to the market to buy the ingredients for dumplings. Ren puts chives and ginger in their shopping bag. At home she watches her Uncle and Mother make rows of dumplings.

When her Mother puts them in the steamer, they smell the delicious folded dumplings. “Can I help?” says, Ren. Her Mother says, “You’re still too little, Ren,” but Ren can smell the yummy aroma.

Finally, Ren helps make pineapple cakes for the family. She is proud that she can press the dough into the molds. The desert smells so good as it bakes.

The entire family gets together for the New Year. Ren’s parents, her brother, Charlie, her Uncle Jian and Auntie Amy bring cousins Jules and Marnie. Everyone shows their love by sharing the yummy food they made.

There is a recipe for pineapple cakes at the end of the book.

The beautiful illustrations add greatly to the story. Ren has black hair and a cute red dress. Her relatives also are well drawn without stereotypes. I especially like all of the smiles each person shares in the family. Everyone enjoys each other!

How We Say I Love You, by Nicole Chen, illustrated by Lenny Wen

Many Asian Americans do not say “I love you” to their children. They may not have grown up with lots of loving words, but their parents did many things to show their love.

In the story Hana realizes that her family exhibits how much they love her by what they do. Her Grandfather, Ah Gong, walks her to school every day. They dance on their way too. Hana shows her love by doing well in school. Her Grandmother, Ah Ma, packs her lunch with delicious noodles and special surprises too. Her Dad takes her to soccer games and cheers her on even when she does not do well. He encourages her to keep trying.

At home, her Dad calls everyone to eat, “Chi fan le!” They have the delicious food that Ah Ma and her Mother cooked.

Hana often rubs Ah Ma’s feet and brings Ah Gong tea in the evening.

At night, Hana’s Dad reads her a story and her Mother tucks Hana in for bed.

“In my family our love lives in all the things we do for one another. That is how we say ‘I love you.’”

This is a sweet story about this family cares for each other. There is a glossary of Chinese terms at the end of the book. If you have children or grandchildren, remember to say, “I love you,” to them.


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