The Story of Chopsticks

9781597021203. ea vol: illus. by YongSheng Xuan. 36p. (Amazing Chinese Inventions). Immedium. Apr. 2016. Tr $15.95. BL
Gr 1–3—Originally published in the early 2000s, these amusing fictional "origin stories" for four ancient Chinese inventions are reissued in a handsome duo-lingual edition. Set against a nondescript "long ago" China, the tales are not meant to be historically accurate. Instead, they are to encourage curiosity about the famous inventions, demonstrating how necessity could have inspired someone to create solutions to daily inconveniences. The three spirited and playful Kang brothers take young readers on four lighthearted journeys, getting into scrapes, finding ingenious ways to get themselves out of trouble, and each time "accidentally inventing" one of the most well-known Chinese cultural objects along the way. The elegantly colorful cut paper-style illustrations are perfect echoes to a Chinese folk art form. Each book features an author's note with an explanation of the title invention's origin and cultural significance, as well as a text-relevant project. The translation team did top-notch work in transforming the stories into highly readable and sophisticated Chinese texts. Since there are no phonetic markings (pinyin) or glossary for the Chinese characters and expressions, the Chinese text is best suited for fluent native readers. An advanced Chinese learner could also handle most of the text but might find it a struggle to look up some of the less familiar phrases.
VERDICT A delightful series for school and public libraries looking to expand or deepen their collection of Chinese folk history.

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