When the Chinese New Year—calculated by a lunar calendar, as opposed to the Western Gregorian one— arrived on February 1, communities everywhere rang in the year of the sheep (the terms "ram" and "goat" are also used). For those who were looking to make the celebration a family affair, or wanted to learn more about Chinese traditions, the children's book Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities and Recipes by Nina Simonds, Leslie Schwartz and The Children's Museum, Boston, illus. by Meilo So, proved to be just the ticket.
The section of the book devoted to Chinese New Year and its Lantern Festival received plenty of timely attention leading up to the special day. Simonds, a bestselling cookbook author (A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens), led the charge by doing what she does best: cook. Simonds and Schwartz participated in Boston Dine Around, a citywide culinary festival held January 19. Simonds also appeared at a press luncheon in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown January 23 as well as at a promotional event (including a cooking demo) at the Smithsonian. And on Thursday, January 30, Simonds chopped things up with Martha Stewart as a guest on the lifestyle maven's syndicated TV show Martha Stewart Living. National Public Radio's Morning Edition was not left out the loop, either. An interview that Simonds taped with NPR host Linda Wertheimer aired on Friday, January 31. And to cap things off, Simonds and Schwartz took part in a huge Chinese New Year event at the Children's Museum, Boston, on February 2. An activity from the book also got print attention, listed in the February issue of Family Fun magazine. Looks like the year of the sheep is hardly a time for wool-gathering—things are starting off with a baaa-ng. And happily, Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats will be there to help young readers spice up other Chinese traditions throughout the year.