cover image A New Year’s Reunion

A New Year’s Reunion

Yu Li-Qiong, illus. by Zhu Cheng-Liang. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5881-6

Two things make this Chinese New Year story remarkable—Zhu’s meticulously observed gouaches and the family’s poignant backstory. On the cover, a small girl with black hair shows her parents a coin. But Maomao’s father, who beams back at her, works far away, and the New Year holiday is the only time all year he gets to see her. They share simple holiday pleasures—Papa hides the lucky coin in a sticky rice ball, and Maomao finds it—but on the day Papa packs to go, a single gesture from Mama, captured with a cinematic eye by Zhu, shows the strain the family is under: she holds her hand up to her face and looks away. Maomao, meanwhile, displays both resilience and generosity: “Here, take this,” she says, pressing her treasured lucky coin into Papa’s hand as he leaves. “Next time you’re back, we can bury it in the sticky rice ball again!” Yu and Zhu create a memorable portrait of China’s most joyous holiday and a testimony to the love that holds Maomao’s family together. Ages 3–5. (Dec.)