Getting Ready for the Chinese New Year with Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

To get ready for the Chinese New Year, which starts January 31 in 2014, we are participating in a blog tour for the lively picture book Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong.


Goldy Luck isn’t enthusiastic about taking turnip cakes to the Chan family for the New Year. After all, things hadn’t been going that well for her the previous year and she just woke up. Things get even worse when she spills the turnip cakes on the Chan’s floor, is so hungry she eats their food without permission, and accidentally breaks their furniture. Will her bad luck ever end?

Author Natasha Yim has built her story on the familiar and comfortable tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” but has made it fresh by adding details of Chinese New Year traditions and a new ending that gently teaches children about responsibility and conflict resolution. I was not surprised to learn that Yim has training in counseling as well as English, because her expertise shows.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is delightful. After reading it, I was excited to come up with some ideas for activities to extend the book. I hope reading it encourages you to learn more about the Chinese New Year and Chinese traditions, too.

Craft and Activity Ideas Inspired by Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and to Celebrate the Chinese New Year:

 1. Find the Chinese New Year’s items in the illustrations

With a copy of the book, can you spot these items/things traditionally associated with the Chinese New Year (in the illustrations)?

  • A red envelope
  • Peach or plum blossoms
  • Oranges
  • Red and gold decorations
  • A dancing lion
  • Lanterns
  • Chinese animal zodiac (not the one in the back)

Can you find any other items with symbolic meanings? Use the Author’s Note in the back matter for clues.



2. Make Congee

The type of porridge mentioned in the book, congee, is made of rice that has been boiled until soft. Often chicken broth or stock is added for a savory dish, but it can also be made using water and adding fruit or sweeteners when served.

A child-friendly congee can be made overnight in a slow-cooker.


  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 8 cups water

Have the child(ren) measure rice and water into slow-cooker (crock pot). Cook on low setting overnight, or eight to ten hours.


Allow to cool slightly and add ingredients you might add to a bowl of cooked oatmeal.


  • Sweeteners such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup, to taste
  • Fruit such as sliced apples, peaches, apricots, bananas, etc.
  • Small amounts of milk, soy milk or rice milk

Two out of three members of our household love this!

The Red Gingham has a chicken and corn congee made in a slow cooker more suitable for an evening meal.

3. Obtain and learn how to use chopsticks

Learning how to use chopsticks is a wonderful way for children to develop fine motor skills and hand strength. For example, Montessori programs often incorporate chopsticks in their lessons.

This video shows both the technique of using chopsticks and and some of the traditions surrounding their use. To add depth, the narrator speaks in Chinese as well as English.

Aren’t the “Hello Kitty” chopsticks cute?

Family Chic has a DIY Dinner Table Game using chopsticks and blocks that looks like a lot fun, and which could be adopted to an educational setting.

4. Make paper cut-outs

The Chinese have been making paper cut outs or paper carvings called Jianzhi for many centuries.


This video contains a tutorial on how to start some simple designs.


  • Colorful paper cut in a square
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Examples of Chinese Jianzhi (see for example my Pinterest board below)

Fold the paper into a triangle, and then cut shapes from it (basically like the traditional paper cut snowflake). Unfold and see the design. Great for teaching symmetry.

Display in a window for the Chinese New Year.

Want even more? Try:

Nonfiction children’s books about the Chinese New Year (from Monday’s post)

For more crafts, try my Chinese New Year Crafts Pinterest board.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff also has a review.

Be sure to see this guest post about how the book came to be.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge (January 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580896529
ISBN-13: 978-1580896528

Disclosures: The book was provided electronically for review purposes by the publisher. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Children’s Books

Did you know next Friday, January 31, 2014, is the start of the Chinese New Year? Now is the time to clean, cook, decorate and get a hair cut in order to be ready for the coming of the Year of the Horse.

Today I have four older nonfiction books about the Chinese New Year. Throughout the week there will be reviews of two new fiction picture books celebrating Chinese culture, as well as suggestions for crafts and activities.


Let’s start out with Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto. Part of National Geographic’s popular Holidays Around the World series, expect bright, colorful photographs and accurate explanations of the various traditions. For example, the book explains that the Chinese New Year starts on the first new moon of the year, following the lunar cycle. In the past the celebrations continued to the full moon, or for 15 days. In modern times the festival is often shortened to a week or less.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (January 13, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1426303815
ISBN-13: 978-1426303814


Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, and the Children’s Museum, Boston, with illustrations by Meilo So explores five traditional Chinese festivals, starting with the Chinese New Year. On the 15th day, or the end of the New Year’s celebration, is the Lantern Festival. The book also includes chapters on the Cold Foods Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn-Moon Festival. It is packed full of stories, as well as traditional activities and recipes. Fun and learning for the whole year!

Age Range: 8+ years
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0152019839
ISBN-13: 978-0152019839

Happy New Year-Demi

Happy New Year! / Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai! by Demi is also sold as Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! in a newer, shorter edition.

Demi has a unique style. Don’t expect text in boxes, because Demi’s text flows with the illustrations. Each two-page spread covers a single topic, such as “The Animal Zodiac,” “Sweep and Dust,” and “Decorate!” I particularly enjoyed the “Trees and Flowers!” because it shows what various plants symbolize to the Chinese.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Dragonfly Books; Bilingual edition (December 28, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0517885921
ISBN-13: 978-0517885925

Chinese New Year Crafts

Chinese New Year Crafts by Karen E. Bledsoe is a simple introduction to the Chinese New Year through craft projects. What New Year celebration would be complete without a dragon puppet or costume?

Age Range: 7 and up
Publisher: Enslow Elementary (April 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0766023478
ISBN-13: 978-0766023475

Looking for more books and craft ideas? Try my Chinese New Year Crafts Pinterest board.

orangesSharing oranges is a Chinese New Year tradition.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the new Nonfiction Monday blog.

Latino/a Kid Lit Challenge: What Can You Do With a Rebozo?

For the 2014 Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge:


This turned out to be a bit more challenging than I thought is would be. My local public library usually has an excellent selection of books. I was very surprised when I did a keyword search for Latino/Latina and found very few titles. Fortunately, Latin@s in Kid Lit has pages of resources at the website, organized nicely by age in the navigation bar at the top of the page. Once I found specific titles to search for, I found my library did carry most of them after all.

Today I went with an older book, published in 2008. It has been pretty cold lately in many parts of North America, so that made me think of What Can You Do With a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla and illustrated by Amy Cordova.

The reader may have seen a woman wearing a rebozo and not known its name or cultural significance. A rebozo is a piece of woven fabric that is worn in Mexico. It is like a cross between a shawl and a scarf, and would be perfect for wrapping up in on a cold day.

What Can You Do With a Rebozo?In the story, a young girl finds many uses for a rebozo. She tries playful and imaginative applications like using a rebozo as a blindfold at a birthday party or as a pirate’s sash during a dress up game. She also discovers practical uses for the rebozo like covering up at night or carrying a baby. At the end of the book, the author challenges readers to come up with some uses for a rebozo of their own.

Besides being a fun and educational book, it also has some serious credentials. Author Carmen Tafolla, a professor at the University of Texas–San Antonio, was San Antonio’s first poet laureate. The book was an Américas Award Commended Title 2009, as well as a Pura Belpré Award Honor Book for illustration in 2009 (Note:  both these award sites would be good places to look for books for the Latin@s challenge).

What Can You Do With a Rebozo? is a lovely introduction to a unique piece of Mexican culture. It would be a wonderful selection for the ALA’s El día de los niños/El día de los libros celebration on April 30, 2014 or any opportunity to learn about world cultures.

Extension activities:

  • Pull out art work or photographs showing women wearing or using rebozos (Frida Kahlo often wears one) to share
  • Show children actual rebozos, or shawls or scarves if you don’t have access to authentic ones. Allow the children to free play with them and see what happens.
  • Serape or rebozo craft at Crayola (serapes were typically worn by men)

Also available:  What Can You Do With a Rebozo?/¿Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo? (English and Spanish Edition) (English and Spanish Edition)

Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tricycle Press (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1582462208
ISBN-13: 978-1582462202

Look for 2014 Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge books on the third Wednesday of each month.

Interested in multicultural children’s books? Follow the our pinterest board.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


A Year of Multicultural Reading

Behind the scenes here at Wrapped in Foil we have lined up some exciting opportunities to share multicultural books this year. To kick the year off with a bang, let’s start with the 2014 Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge.

latinos in kid lit challenge

The challenge is pretty straightforward:  read one book a month that is written by a Latin@ author and/or includes Latin@ characters, settings, themes, etc. from January 1, 2014-December 31, 2014.

How to participate: post somewhere that you are joining the 2014 Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge and then sign up in the comments of the Reading Challenge announcement including a direct link to your post. They also request that you copy and paste their reading challenge logo onto your site. Go to the announcement page for other suggestions how to participate and great suggestions for books and resources.

Some books we’ve already reviewed:

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Susan L. Roth (review)


The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault (review)

the-good-gardenEllen Ochoa: The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut by Maritza Romero (review)

Ellen-Ochoa-RomeroValerie Petrillo’s A Kid’s Guide to Latino History:  More than 50 Activities (review)

Latino-HistoryCan’t wait to add to the list.

Are you participating? If you’d like, let us know!