With mid-Autumn festival coming up, we’ve been reading a few topical books about the moon and seasons.
This story of Full Moon 满月 (Mǎnyuè), probably isn’t what you think it will be, but it’s a touching read bringing up many modern issues about orphans, AIDS, adoption, death, and being grateful. It’s the only picture book I’ve seen which attempts to intertwine such heavy topics.
Country of original publication: China
Language: Simplified Chinese
Lines per page: 6
Audio available: No
Available in NLB library: Yes
Recommended ages: 5 – 12 with a Chinese speaking adult. For context, my P2 daughter was unable to read this book independently, and the concepts contained would also benefit from adult guidance.
Beautiful illustrations with a poignant story make 满月 a memorable picture book. It might bring tears too – especially for the adult reader, so it’s worth being ready for. Whilst these are deep, and sadness is a constant theme through this book, the overarching message is about positivity, optimism and hope.
A little village girl in rural China is named 满月 (Full Moon), because she was born on the day of a full moon. There’s so much in her name – the girl’s parents pass away of a ‘blood disease’ whilst she is very young (which we find out in the afterword of the book is HIV/AIDS from a blood transfusion), and before passing away, 满月’s mother assures her that Mummy and Daddy will be back to visit when there is a full moon in the sky. Full Moon is her name, and also a symbol of her mother’s hope, and the seasons we go through from waxing and waning, to full again, and always looking forwards and needing to move.
The orphaned girl is cared for by an elder in the village, until a childless couple from the city adopt the child – on the day of a bright round full moon. She grows up happy and loved. However, 满月 still remembers her biological parents, and the kind grandfather who cared for her. One year, the adoptive family all visit the village to bring a box of mooncakes during Mid-Autumn Festival.
The book’s author, 保冬妮, is a professionally qualified psychological counsellor, and has been working in early childhood for nearly 3 decades, so I sense much of what is written comes from observations and deep understandings made over that period of work, which would be beyond the reach of most.
The book has won several Children’s Literature Awards in China, and is reportedly used by welfare organisations and counsellors to explain to children some of these heavy life concepts. This is unbelievably one of 200 books she has written! In an interview I read with 保冬妮, she states she is a determined writer who “believes that children’s literature builds the spirit of children” and that “reading is indispensable”. I wholeheartedly agree!
The illustrations are beautiful and expressive watercolour pieces, and accompany the story well. The text is short and poetic. It also doesn’t take too long to finish the story, meaning there is plenty of time for discussion afterwards (and during) without the reading session going forever.
The downside of this book is that for non-Chinese readers, it’s not as accessible as other books which we’ve enjoyed with Luka or Ximalaya audio. This one has no audio option, and the text was too challenging for my daughter to read alone. However, we read it together with a family friend who is a kindergarten Mandarin teacher, and the experience created a beautiful and memorable discussion over afternoon tea. She commented that the book has a beautiful maternal feel to it – and perhaps this is helped by having a female author.
The same author 保冬妮 has written several other festival-related books which look equally as exquisite and thought provoking – which we will remain on the lookout for opportunities to borrow from our local library and read.
- Chinese New Year Food 年味儿
- Lantern Festival 元宵灯
- Dragon Boat Dumplings Rice Cakes 端午粽米香
- Chrysanthemum 菊花蜜
- Lotus Lanterns and The Sound of Flute 荷灯照夜人
- I Love June First Holiday 我爱六一
- Huaniang Valley 花娘谷
- Grandmas Youth League 奶奶的青团
- The Snow Lotus 冈拉梅朵
This book was kindly given to us by My Story Treasury, and I’m so glad it’s now on our bookshelves. Thank you to My Story Treasury for recommending and blessing this book to us, after we asked for suggestions on good Mid-Autumn Festival books.
Where to buy in Singapore?
You can buy in Singapore from great children’s Chinese bookstores, including My Story Treasury . I’m excited to share that My Story Treasury has kindly extended a discount code to all readers of my blog. Use “lahlahbanana10” on check-out to receive 10% off any title that your purchase through their beautifully curated online store.
See my other reviews on Chinese Books for Pre-Schoolers or Chinese Books for Primary Schoolers.