cover image Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

Roseanne Thong, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-2676-1

Debut author Thong cleverly uses a concept book to celebrate Chinese culture. ""Round is a mooncake/ Round is the moon/ Round are the lanterns/ outside my room,"" explains the unnamed young heroine as she takes the reader on a tour of her neighborhood, where circles, squares and rectangles abound. Lin's (The Ugly Vegetables) full-bleed, double-page gouache pictures, radiant with traditional Chinese colors and patterns, offer a witty melange of the old and new, the cultural and the universal, the everyday and (for most of the audience, anyway) the exotic. A family feasts on pizza and dim sum, both of which come in square boxes; her father talks on his rectangular cell phone while the narrator practices the ancient art of ink writing using a rectangular inking stone and paintbrush rack. A brief glossary on the final page explains the meaning and role of Asian words and things that appear in the book. Tipping its hat to both the melting pot and ethnic pride, this makes an enchanting primer for children of all backgrounds. Ages 2-5. (Sept.)