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Happy, Happy Chinese New Year!    by Demi order for
Happy, Happy Chinese New Year!
by Demi
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This charming little book takes us through springtime (in China this is in January/February) preparations for Chinese New Year, 'the season for planting, as well as all new beginnings.'

In a context that looks very like old China, we learn that it's a time to sweep out the old, to dust, and make a fresh start (the latter includes catching up on homework!) Illustrations show many small children performing all sorts of variations on these activities. The New Year's Eve feast made me salivate, and I especially enjoyed the list of foods and their special meanings for the year to come ... 'Persimmon mean that all wishes will be fulfilled' and 'New Year's cakes and candies represent peace and harmony'.

Firecrackers, lit in front of each house to scare off evil spirits, are always fun. And the tradition of visiting family and friends with special gifts (each carrying a symbolic wish, such as 'togetherness' from candied coconut) is one to which we can all relate, no matter our cultural background. Finally Lion Dances bring good luck, and look exciting to perform, the Lantern Festival disposes of evil spirits, and Dragon Dances - 'with drums and horns and happiness' - wish everyone a Happy, Happy New Year!

If this celebration is part of your tradition, Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! is a delightful way to anticipate its joys. If it's not, then adopt some of these ideas, sweep out the old, give gifts symbolic of good wishes, and have a happy Chinese New Year too!

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