Mooncakes

Loretta Seto, illus. by Renné Benoit. Orca, $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4598-0107-3
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. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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