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Book Review: Let’s Celebrate Singaporean Malay Traditional Festivals and Customs

Singapore has another public holiday coming up this week, for Hari Raya Haji.  But do you know what the significance of this celebration is? You will after reading this book!

Title: 《大家来过节 2》新加坡马来族传统节日与习俗  (Let’s Celebrate Singaporean Malay Traditional Festivals and Customs)
  Fu Chong (Frank Fu)
Country of original publication:  Singapore
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages in book: 42
~ Lines per page: 7- 21
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: No
~ Available in NLB: No
Target age range: 5 and upwards (even adults will learn something!) although note the Chinese reading level is quite hard.

What is this series?

A locally produced series of books, called 大家来过节  “Let’s Celebrate – Singaporean Festivals and Customs“, details traditional festivals and customs celebrated by the different ethnic groups in Singapore.  The set of three books have been lovingly authored and illustrated by Frank Fu, who is both a talented artist and curious school teacher, making the perfect combination for a series like this. 

This review focusses on Book #2 《大家来过节 2》新加坡马来族传统节日与习俗 . 

We know from the calendar of Singapore public holidays that there are two main festivals for Malays each year, with Hari Raya Haji coming up this Friday.    Thankfully, the second volume in the 大家来过节 set covers Malay traditions, including outlining the difference between Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa, including answers to many questions which my children have asked me about their Malay compatriots, and for which I’ve never had good answers on hand.  The book covers (very briefly) both ethnic and religious elements of the Malay traditions.

Written fully in Chinese, with hand drawn pictures and matter-of-fact explanations, it explains the ins and outs of the rich cultural heritage of the Malays in Singapore.   At the end of each section, there is a small activity (like mazes, crosswords, word search etc).  It’s interesting to learn how to write common Malay words in Chinese, such as Ramadan, Islam, Sultan, Jalan, etc.

The page outlining ‘Hari Raya Haji’, with a short word search.

Being focussed on Singapore, my children could recognise many of the drawings from the book, and identify them as places we’ve been to or seen before like Gelang Serai Bazaar, Malay Heritage Centre, Haji Lane, Masjid Sultan Mosque, etc.  The book is cleverly put together, with aspects that would really appeal to a child who likes their facts and figures – for example, the Table of Contents looks like a Calendar, and there is a glossary at the back.  Each illustration is dated, so a child who enjoys numbers may like flipping through to understand which was the earliest picture drawn, and it gives an insight into how long it took the author to create all the doodles (in this book’s case, they span 2017 and 2018).

The Table of Contents page is designed to look like a calendar

The series has no pinyin, nor English translation nor audio available, which means we did read much of it through Google Translate.  Usually we wouldn’t attempt such a feat! However, given the theme and the local significance, 新加坡马来族传统节日与习俗 is the kind of book which I really wanted to read with the children, and which I hope we would revisit annually (or bi-annually) at Ramadan and Hari Raya Haji to recap the traditions.  Hopefully each year we’ll be able to read more of this independently, and less googling!  It certainly has a lot of text, but it’s richly peppered with detailed illustrations which are easy to relate to.  I also appreciate that the book focuses on charitable and community aspects too, and really celebrates the culture for what it is.

Salamat Hari Raya Haji Singapore!

Who is this series for?

I think this series would be a wonderful way for a child (and their family) to not only understand Hari Raya Haji, but also as a reference to the three main ethnicities which make up Singapore, as we lead up to National Day Celebrations.  I wonder if Frank will write a fourth book on Eurasians next?  We would also love that!

This book series was kindly recommended to us by My Story Treasury – after we asked for some books to better understand local Singaporean traditions.  This boutique bookstore curate fun and meaningful Chinese children’s books that nurture curiosity and character.

My Story Treasury kindly gave us the full set of three books (the other books cover Chinese and Indian traditions, which I’ll also review shortly!).  They have extended a special 10% discount to readers of my blog to for any book from their store – use “lahlahbanana10” promo code on check-out to receive 10% off any title that your purchase.  

Why to buy in Singapore?

You can buy online from My Story Treasury  here.  Remember to use my discount code “lahlahbanana10” for 10% price reduction!

All Titles in the series:

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