Chinese books from favourite TV shows – Book Review: Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Magic Schoolbus, Octonauts

This post is sharing on books from our four favourite series from television, which we have in Simplified Chinese.   I’ve reviewed them in order from easiest to hardest, from a Chinese fluency perspective.  All of these series reviewed below are compatible with the Luka reading companion, for page-by-page audio and all are available to borrow from Singapore’s local libraries in the Chinese book section.

  1. Peppa Pig
  2. Paw Patrol
  3. Magic School Bus
  4. Octonauts

Sometimes, kids just want to hang out with their favourite pals from television.  Most of the time, I find books which are spawned from cartoon television series have very superficial and repetitive storylines, and the main attraction is the pictures.  So, I much prefer to buy television-show related book series in Chinese, so at least we’re reinforcing the language learning (because, in general I don’t think there’s much other learning to go on with most of these books… Magic School Bus being a wonderful, notable exception).

I have included the Chinese names, so you can search for these in the National Library Board OneSearch catalogues.

Peppa Pig: 1st Bilingual Board Book Series 4-Book Set (Chinese Bilingual)

Author:  Ladybird Books Ltd / Entertainment One
Country of original publication: United Kingdom
Language: Simplified Chinese and English
~ Pages per book:  16
~ Lines per page:  1 – 2
~ Books in series: 4
~Pinyin: no
~ Audio available: Luka
Available in Singapore NLB libraries: yes

Peppa Pig (小猪佩奇) is one of my number one recommended television cartoon shows for kids beginning in Mandarin, simply because it’s so short, slow paced and simple, with large amounts of word repetition. The same can be said of this book series. 

The set is four book hardcover series about family, designed for very young children or beginning readers. In each book, Peppa introduces a new member of her family, and discusses their unique characteristics.   The story would appeal most to a 0-3 year old, and readable by a young reader as it has simple words from daily life. (although note – if you’re deliberately looking for simple books for your emerging reader to read by themselves, I’d recommend start with a graded readers rather than picture books, which I’d reviewed here).

For example, from the first book the story begins like this – imagine it said with Peppa’s usual proud/bossy tone:

“My name is Peppa and this book is all about my daddy.  He I the best daddy in thr wole wide world!  And the funniest!  My daddy has an extremely serious job… but I don’t think he is very serious at all.  My daddy reads about very important matters, but I know that bedtime stories are his favourite”…..  

我妈妈 My Mummy
我爸爸 My Daddy
我爷爷 My Grandpa
我奶奶 My Granny

Paw Patrol:  Series 1 and 2 in Chinese

Author:  Nickelodeon
Country of original publication: United States
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages per book:  31
~ Lines per page:  2 – 8
~ Books in series: 8 – 10
~Pinyin: no
~ Audio available: Luka
Available in Singapore NLB libraries: yes

We have 18 Paw Patrol (汪汪队) books…… it’s probably a few too many.   But, they are very slimline for storage, and it’s totally better than watching a marathon of Paw Patrol re-runs on TV (which my kids have also been known to do).  Each book follows one Paw Patrol episode, so the children know these stories off by heart, and I appreciate that we can have the stories minus the screentime.   The books are filled with plenty of pictures (31 pages worth) and whilst it’s not text-heavy, to understand the story content requires a level of Chinese fluency from the child.  The reading level is a stretch for my 7 year-old, so we essentially just listen using Luka.

Series 1:  8 Book Set titles

汪汪队-脱险的小火车 Pups Save a Train
汪汪队-挽救大游轮 Pups Save the Cruise Ship
汪汪队-走失的小野雁 Pup Pup Goose
汪汪队-送外星人回家 Pups Save the Space Alien
汪汪队-失控的三轮车 Pups Pit Crew
汪汪队-圣诞夜大救援 Pups Save Christmas
汪汪队-抢险小能手 Flying Adventure
汪汪队-营救淘气小猫 Pups Save a Kitten

Series 2: 10 Book Set titles

汪汪队-雪山救生员 Pups’ Snowy Mountain Rescue
汪汪队-你好,奇异岛 Pups Explore an Island
汪汪队-空中大冒险 Pups’ Sky Adventure 
汪汪队-抢救机器狗 Pups Save Robo-Dog
汪汪队-冒险湾停电了 Pups Turn on the Lights
汪汪队-水塔抢修大行动  Pups Save a Water Tower
汪汪队-消防小英雄 Pups Fight Fire
汪汪队-猫狗大战  Pups and Taekwondo
汪汪队-热气球比赛  Pup Pup and Away
汪汪队-火车大救援  Pups Save a Train

Magic School Bus 12 Book Set (Original Version, in Chinese)

Author:  Joanna Cole
Country of original publication: United States
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages per book:  40-48 pages
~ Lines per page:  5 – 25
~ Books in series: 12
~Pinyin: yes
~ Audio available: Luka
Available in Singapore NLB libraries: yes

Magic School Bus 12 Book Set (Original Version, in Chinese)

Magic School Bus (神奇校车) books are my one exception to “TV show” books, where I do genuinely like the content of these books, both in English and Chinese. These books, like the cartoon series, expose children to fun science through highly stimulating and imaginative stories.  In fact, these books came before the animated series, which makes sense!

The 12-Book set are essentially translations of the original books, written in the 1980s.   I find the layout of the books are little messy and overwhelming (pictures and text everywhere), probably speaking to the fact that they’re over 30 years old now.  Nevertheless, the magic remains and it still manages to captivate my children, and is especially relevant to my primary schooler who loves to sprout scientific facts. 

We need to use Luka to really appreciate these books – each book takes about half an hour to read through, so they take substantial amount of time, and are great for listening comprehension.   As the books contain multiple different text boxes and speech bubble on each page, Luka doesn’t read everything.  It’s quite a nice compromise, because it means we fill in the gaps…. although the font is sooo frustratingly tiny.  For a child who has finished the Le Le series (eg knows 1200+ characters), they would be able to read most of it.

We are aware there is a much simpler set of Magic School Bus bridging levelled readers, which is sitting on our ‘wishlist’, as I think it would be much more readable for children.

Book titles:

神奇校车:地球内部探秘 Inside the Earth 
神奇校车:气候大挑战 The Climate Challenges
神奇校车:探访感觉器官 The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses
神奇校车:漫游电世界 The Electric Field Trip
神奇校车:奇妙的蜂巢 Inside a Beehive 
神奇校车:穿越飓风 Inside a Hurricane 
神奇校车:追寻恐龙 In the Time of the Dinosaurs 

神奇校车:海底探险 On the Ocean Floor 
神奇校车:迷失在太阳系 Lost in the Solar System 
神奇校车:在人体中游览 Inside the Human Body 
神奇校车:水的故事 At the Waterworks 
神奇校车:科学博览会 The Science Fair Expedition

Octonauts: 10 book set in Chinese

Author:  Vampire Squid Production
Country of original publication: Canada
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages per book:  99
~ Lines per page:  0 – 14
~ Books in series: 10
~Pinyin: yes
~ Audio available: Luka
Available in Singapore NLB libraries: yes

Woah, these books are HARD!  My kids are fans of the ocean heroes known as the Octonauts – if not, this set wouldn’t have been purchased. They love to follow whatever splashing adventurers are happening – however, diving into these books was difficult. In fact, we have had to put this series back on the bookshelf for a little while.   Even using Luka as our audio, my eldest (Grade 2) finds it hard to comprehend the storylines.  Luka’s reading speed of this set it quite fast. My younger kids (pre-schoolers) zone out from about the first sentence.  

Each Octonauts book contains three stories, which follow one episode of the cartoon series.  We only bought 5 of the ten in the set. So, we’ve got 15 episodes “waiting” as motivation, for when the combined mandarin level in our household increases a little bit further, and we can look forward to learning about the ocean adventures of the eight intrepid friends at a later date.

Book titles:

饥饿的引水鱼 The Hungry Pilot Fish
大王乌贼 The Giant Squid 

独角鲸 The Narwhal
迷路海星 The Lost Sea Star
海象首领 The Walrus Chief
海马传说 The Seahorse Tale
水滴鱼兄弟 The Blobfish Brothers
海底风暴 The Undersea Storm
怪兽地图Monster Map
小海豚 The Baby Dolphin

And that’s a wrap!  What books in Chinese have your kids discovered from favourite television shows?

Remember that each of these books has accompanying audio available through Luka. For more information about how we enjoy these books with the Luka reading companion, you can read my previous post here.

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