by Loretta Seto (Author) Renné Benoit (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A little girl celebrates the Chinese Moon Festival with her parents, who tell her three legends about the moon while they eat mooncakes and drink tea.

The lyrical story of a young girl who shares the special celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival with her parents. As they eat mooncakes, drink tea and watch the night sky together, Mama and Baba tell ancient tales of a magical tree that can never be cut down, the Jade Rabbit who came to live on the moon and one brave woman's journey to eternal life.

With a gentle focus on the importance of family, Mooncakes is both a perfect book for parent and child to read together and an ideal choice for schools and libraries.

Publisher's Weekly

Seto's children's book debut is set during the Moon Festival, a summer festival celebrated by Chinese families with candlelit paper lanterns, moon viewing, mooncakes, and storytelling. A first-person narrative from a small girl describes her family's practices in the present tense: "Soon there will be mooncakes to eat, sweet and chewy.... They make a circle for me and Mama and Baba. They make a circle for my family." Benoit (The Secret of the Village Fool) paints quiet, shell-pink and wisteria-tinted watercolors of the girl and her family cuddled under moonlit trees. Embedded in the story are three Chinese folktales that the contemporary family listens to: a cruel tyrant chases his wife until she escapes to a castle in the sky, a lazy woodcutter chops at a cinnamon tree that never dies, and a rabbit offers himself up as a meal to three hungry magicians. Benoit paints these stories' characters in traditional dress, alternating with delicious close-ups of the food the contemporary family eats. An overall sense of magic and possibility is more than enough to temper the folktales' slightly dark moments. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2013 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreK-Gr 3-A generous trim size and skillful use of white space usher readers into this loving story of a little girl and her family as they celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival. The lanterns are set and Mama and Baba snuggle with their daughter as they eat mooncakes, drink tea, and share the stories of Chang-E, Wu-Gang, and Jade Rabbit, legendary characters that live on the Moon. The myths are set off by italicized text and a more formal Chinese painting style, with the characters dressed in traditional clothing. While cautionary in nature, the tales are not frightening and are obviously meant to convey a sense of the family's heritage. In the contemporary story, the mooncakes seem real enough to eat, the teapot and cups are beautifully rendered, and the night sky sparkles. This quiet gem will make an effective read-aloud to introduce the Moon Festival and Chinese culture.

Copyright  School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

This quiet gem will make an effective read-aloud to introduce the Moon Festival and Chinese culture.— "School Library Journal"
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2017
Library Media Connection, 01/01/14

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