Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities, and Recipes

Grade 4-7-This book features five holidays: Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Each section begins with a one-page description of the history and customs of the festival and is followed by a four- to six-page story, from one to three recipes, and two or three crafts or games. The headings on each page appear in both English typeface and Chinese calligraphy; a guide to Chinese pronunciation is included. The ample white space surrounding the text is filled with small, whimsical watercolor illustrations. Each of the four sections is introduced by a dynamic, detailed watercolor painting on a double-page spread. They include a dragon parade complete with fireworks, kites flying above a family honoring ancestors at a grave, a dragon boat race, and preparations for a moon ceremony. A two-page resource section is divided into three parts: of interest to adults, of interest to young readers, and Internet sources. Most books for young readers about Chinese holidays stress Chinese New Year; only two others feature the full range of annual festivals. Carol Stepanchuk’s Red Eggs & Dragon Boats (Pacific View, 1994) is a shorter book with a similar scope, but fewer recipes and crafts/activities. Judith Karen Gee’s A Book of Chinese Festivals (Steam RR, 1989; o.p.) offers a brief description of each holiday but no recipes or other activities. Moonbeams is a useful, visually appealing addition to any holiday collection. Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
80 pgs.
Harcourt Children’s Books
ISSN Number
Average: 4 (1 vote)


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Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities and Recipes

Field of Interest/Specialty: second grade
Posted On: 11/25/2017

Name: Peggy Willard
Grade 2 Social Studies
Mother of Sorrows School
This book from the Children’s collection is suitable for upper elementary students. It would be a wonderful resource for their research or to provide information for families.
The book contains sections about four major Chinese holidays: Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival, Qing Ming and Cold Foods Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.
I was looking for simple things to do with my primary students to introduce them to holidays celebrated by people around the world. This book provided detailed background, and extensive practical information. The stories were great for read-aloud and class discussion. They appealed to the children’s imaginations and gave them insight into another culture. Many of the projects were beyond the scope of the classroom but provided the reader with a broader and more complete picture of the meaning and celebration of each holiday. I found that I was able to adapt some of the simpler crafts to use with my primary students. There was at least one craft and recipe for each holiday easily adaptable for use in a classroom situation.