Book Review: 100 Thousand Whys 十万个为什么

Author: Jian Le Bao (JLB)
Country of original publication:  Singapore  
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages per book: 35
~ Lines per page:  20 – 30
~ Books in set: 5
~ Pinyin: no
~ Audio available: Penpal Whizz
Available in Singapore NLB: No

Our latest order of Penpal Whizz books arrived today, which included  十万个为什么 (动物卷).    

My elder daughter is an avid reader of The Young Scientists series, which as the name would suggest is a kids science-based magazine popular in South East Asia.    It’s a graded English series, with lots of comics, debunking myths around our planet and sharing fun facts.   She read it for hours, and it’s always top on the list of what to borrow from the school library.  The series 100 Thousand Whys 十万个为什么 is in all aspects is strikingly similar, but in Chinese.

The slim soft-cover books are filled with interesting facts that a child can understand – like why do snakes shed their skin? What happens with a crab loses it pincer? 

Formatwise, there’s a fun illustrated comic panel on one page (much like Young Scientists), and then a longer description on the opposite page. The books all fit into a nice cardboard sleeve, so the set can be kept together and put onto a bookshelf (unlike our Young Scientists which are sprawled all over a magazine rack).

The series suited more for upper primary, given the topics included.  From a language perspective, much of the Chinese in too difficult for my daughter, certainly in terms or writing and perhaps in terms of listening comprehension too.  But, I would say the same thing about some of the Young Scientist sets too. The difference being that Young Scientists has graded levels from P1 to 6, which 100 Thousand Whys does not.

Given the series is compatible with the Pen Pal Whizz, it means she can hear the characters’ voices, sound effects from the pictures, and also the narrative of the written Chinese text.   I’m not sure how much ‘reading’ she is really doing, but she is able to learn fun facts about nature through listening to the pen and looking at the pictures. For a child with no Chinese literate parents, this was a good start for me to get her independently reading and appreciating more difficult materials in a Chinese language medium.

In Singapore, 十万个为什么 (动物卷) retails for S$29 for a set of 5 (yes, we paid for this price too!), and can be bought here:

I’ve written a previous post on Penpal Whizz, and other reading pens which we like here.

What is Penpal Whizz? How does it compare to other Chinese reading pens?

Different reading pens and curriculums suit different learning stages, ages, family situations, and intended learning outcomes. I’ve put together a diagram showing how we see them all fitting together.

PenPal Whizz is a good choice if you’re in Singapore (it’s produced locally by JLB and is relatively cost competitive).

Comparison of different Chinese reading pens (including Luka, Penpal, Ciaohu, Le Le, Habbi Habbi)

Refer to my previous posts for more information about Chinese reading pens – these include:

I would love to hear from you, especially if you have experience with other Chinese reading pens. It’s only through meeting other wonderful parents virtually, that this shared language journey becomes a more valuable one. All comments welcomed!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: