Playing with Lanterns

by Wang Yage (Author) Zhu Chengliang (Illustrator)

Playing with Lanterns
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Zhao Di wishes the New Year would never end!

Zhao Di and her friends are excited to go out at night with their paper lanterns and celebrate Chinese New Year. Each holding a unique colorful lantern with a lit candle inside, they admire the breathtaking colors while doing their best to avoid the wind and the sneaky boys in the village. Every night, until the fifteenth day of New Year, Zhao Di and her friends take part in this fun tradition, experiencing the thrill of nighttime in their village. And then--it's time to smash the lanterns!

In this cheerful book first published in China, readers are invited along with Zhao Di and her friends as they experience all the joy and excitement of this folk Chinese custom. Details about the paper lantern tradition are also included in an author's note at the end of the book.

Publishers Weekly

Originally published in China, this leisurely narrative by Wang follows Zhao Di, a Chinese child, through the 15 days of the Lunar New Year celebration in the Shaanxi province as she participates in a range of activities, from receiving to smashing lanterns. Quiet, elegant passages stud the text ("Lanterns near and far bobbed like lamps on fishing boats") as Zhao Di experiences the joy of the holiday alongside sadness around the event's ephemerality. Tenderly detailed gouache paintings by Zhu render the children as small, patterned bundles frolicking against expanses of snow; brightly colored lanterns provide focal points throughout. A quiet celebration of a Northwestern Chinese tradition. An author's note concludes. Ages 3-7. (Dec.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2--In snowy northern China, children celebrate the new year by lighting candles in paper lanterns, usually given by their uncles; young Zhao Di receives her lantern and runs outside to play with friends. All of the figures are rounded, padded with multicolored, patterned winter coats, mittens, boots, hats, and scarves. Important words appear in red text, in capital letters (New Year, lanterns, Zhao Di). The story is narrated in past tense, using an odd blend of first-person plural and third person, and there is no real conflict or arc: Zhao Di enjoys the 15-day celebration and is sad when she has to smash her lantern at the end of it, but remembers New Year will come again. An author's note explains that in Shaanxi province in northwest China, smashing lanterns is a folk tradition that can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. The painterly illustrations help readers enjoy the special New Year experience. Switching between a kids'-eye view and a perspective from above, the illustrations showcase the different kinds of colorful, glowing lanterns, the way children's footprints appear behind them in the snow, and how the sky grows dark early in the evening, then fills with bright fireworks. VERDICT This work will foster discussions of unique traditions and is a good addition to holiday collections.--Jenny Arch, Lilly Lib., Florence, MA

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A colorful wintry tale ushers in Chinese New Year over two weeks...In a pivotal spread that shows Zhao Di sitting with her dog and chickens, readers are granted an interior view of the architecture and layout of a rustic farmhouse. In addition, the villagers' various clothing styles, headdresses, and skin tones suggest the region's diverse ethnicities and socio-economic landscapes...A charming illustration of childhood memories during the holiday season." —Kirkus Reviews

"Quiet, elegant passages stud the text...Tenderly detailed gouache paintings by Zhu render the children as small, patterned bundles frolicking against expanses of snow...A quiet celebration of a Northwestern Chinese tradition." —Publishers Weekly

"Zhu's illustrations feature Zhou Di and her friends bundled into soft, candy-colored shapes that glow as brightly as their lanterns against the silvery snow and chocolate night sky, while details of other New Year rituals and hints of rural village life background the girls' activities. An author's note expands briefly on setting and customs, making this an enticing addition to turn-of-the-year story times." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
December 20, 2021
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 11/01/21

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