From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—This handsome picture book focuses on the visual aspect of Chinese characters. Words are introduced on the verso with the modern Chinese character and a smaller ancient character in the upper left corner of the page, so one is immediately aware of the evolution of the visual form of the word. On the right, a full-page illustration is rendered in a way that echoes the strokes of the character. For example, the picture for the character "high" shows a pagodalike building similar to the form of the calligraphy. The words are grouped so that terms such as "see," "look at," and "ear" follow "eye," whose written character is part of these other related characters, indicating the relationship of the basic word to the others. The artwork is rich and colorful; these striking linotypes at times include in their design or as their frame what appears to be boldly patterned origami paper. In fact, the whole book is artistically satisfying: the design, the colors, the thoughtfulness of the visual presentation, and the square, thick shape just the right size for easy browsing. The book is, however, problematic in terms of its usefulness. Though the pinyin translation of the Chinese characters is given, no pronunciation guide is included. In addition, the pinyin doesn't show any indication of tones. For example, "tian
" is the Chinese for both "field' and "sky," but nothing indicates that the pronunciation of the two words differs slightly but significantly. Overall, this is an attractive guide to understanding Chinese characters but not to understanding the spoken language.—Barbara Scotto, Children's Literature New England, Brookline, MA
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About the Author
In her life and in her work, China has had an enormous influence on Catherine Louis. Although she lives in Switzerland, a small piece of her heart has moved far away to the land of the dragon. Louis is also the author and illustrator of Liu and the Bird, published by North-South Books.