Bedtime Story: The Pet Dragon, by Christoph Niemann
“Lin, a young Chinese girl, receives a baby dragon for a gift. The two of them play together until they accidentally break a vase. Lin’s father is so angry that he insists the little creature be caged. The dragon escapes, and Lin goes to look for it. With the help of an old woman, a witch, she finds it living with the other dragons in the clouds, and grown up. The dragon returns Lin to her home, and her father agrees that they can visit often. Though the story is thin, the book is clever. Its purpose is to introduce the Chinese language, and it succeeds admirably. Each page contains one or more Chinese characters, which appear not only at the bottom with the English translation, but also superimposed on the drawings. In this way, Niemann emphasizes the connection between the lines of the character and the object it represents. Playful and humorous in his approach, Niemann includes some of the icons of Chinese culture, past and present-dragons, the Great Wall, Ping-Pong, and the ever-present giant cranes that are building modern China. Now that Mandarin is becoming a popular language choice in forward-looking communities, this title is sure to please.”—Barbara Scotto, Children’s Literature New England, Brookline, MA
Waketime Activity: Take a trip to China!
1.) Use a world map or globe to show how you would get from your house to China. Talk about how you could get there – plane, boat, train, etc.
2.) Introduce the concept that people from other countries speak different languages. Page back through the book and look at the Chinese characters and translations.
3.) Pair this book with a book about China, such as China ABCs, by Holly Schroeder.
4.) Make Chinese food for lunch or dinner – homemade fried rice is a favorite of my boys.