A Sweet New Year for Ren

by Michelle Sterling (Author) Dung Ho (Illustrator)

A Sweet New Year for Ren
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Celebrate the Lunar New Year through a young girl's family traditions in this charming picture book featuring illustrations by New York Times bestselling artist Dung Ho that also includes a recipe for pineapple cakes!

Little Ren looks forward to the preparation for and festivities of Lunar New Year, but she is always too little to help make the delicious pineapple cakes that are her favorite. She watches family members rolling out the dough and loves the mouth-watering smell. Watching and waiting, when will Ren be old enough?

Select format:

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3--A young girl and her family prepare for Lunar New Year by cooking a sumptuous feast. Ren is eager for the upcoming celebration. She hopes this year she can finally help make her favorite New Year's treat, pineapple cake. Unfortunately, the grown-ups deem Ren "still too little" to assist in hanging lanterns, folding dumplings, and stirring noodles. Despite being relegated to an observer for these tasks, Ren's spirits remain high. She attempts to impress her older brother Charlie by making pineapple cakes on her own, but instead makes a big mess. Charlie patiently teaches Ren how to roll the dough, and an aunt advises Ren on how to press it into molds. Ren is proud to have contributed to the dinner offerings and grateful to be surrounded by her family on this joyous occasion. Cheerful cartoon illustrations bring a lively, upbeat tone in keeping with the sense of festivity. The palette of radiant reds, golden yellows, and budding greens reflects shades traditionally associated with the holiday and reinforces the warmth and love of this family-focused celebration. VERDICT A delightful charmer that touches on practices associated with Lunar New Year and highlights a variety of foods.--Sophie Kenney

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

On an early morning that "smells like Lunar New Year is almost here," narrator Ren wakes with pineapple cake-making on her mind: "Will I get to help, finally?" But her family gives the same answer; despite having grown two inches, "You're still too little, Ren." And not just for making pineapple cake: Ren can only watch as Baba hangs red lanterns and Auntie Weili stirs longevity noodles. Ho's softly bright, digitally rendered art colors the pages with the same enthusiasm and fullness as Sterling's crisply sensate prose, which follows the family's bustling preparations, including Ren's scrambling for groceries with Mama ("I poke the fish's glassy scales as it slips and squeaks into a bag"). And when older brother Charlie helps Ren prepare a batch of pineapple cakes, the family looks on proudly at the new year's sweet beginnings. Includes an author's note and pineapple cake recipe. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

The palette of radiant reds, golden yellows, and budding greens reflects shades traditionally associated with the holiday and reinforces the warmth and love of this family-focused celebration.— "— Kirkus Reviews"
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date
November 15, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV050000 - Juvenile Fiction | Cooking & Food
JUV017080 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Other, Non-Religious
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Chinese Americans
Chinese New Year

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!