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Book Review: Zorori series in Simplified Chinese

The Zorori (怪杰佐罗力) stories are vivid, interesting, and hilarious, creating a genre to themselves – part mystery, part comedy, and I wouldn’t know whether to classify them as a novel, graphic novel or even picture book. They’re great Simplified Chinese books for a mid-to-upper primary child who still needs some visuals to stay interested in the reading.

Key Information on Zorori 怪杰佐罗力 series

What the Zorori plot is about

Zorori is an eccentric fox whose goal is to be the world’s number one mischief-maker, marry a beautiful princess and make his mother proud.  He’s also a grand inventor and a little clumsy.  Zoroi and his two bandits-in-training (who are twin boars) travel around and do pretty silly/bizarre things together.  

They were first published in the 1980s, so  I’m now meeting parents of primary schoolers who are saying they read these books as a child and LOVED them, so now are introducing them to their own children.  These books were originally written in Japanese (much like many of our favourite Simplified Chinese sets) by author/illustrator Yutaka Hara.  Hara is a storytelling master, having written many popular series such as “Little Ghost”, “Spinach Man”, and “The famous fried chicken primary school”.  For some reason, Zorori series is by far the most well-known in Singapore.  In Japan, Zorori is said to be more famous than Harry Potter.

There are 70 books written in Japanese in this set, of which 57 books have been translated into Simplified Chinese (and still increasing).  It’s updated at a rate of about two books a year.  We’ve read half of them.  My daughter loves leafing through and rereading, which makes it a winning book in at our place. Given the sheer number of stories written, it’s a good indication that they’re not world-class literature, but they are certainly good sellers.

What my daughter likes about Zorori:

What a mother would like about the set:

Also, note there are some bad jokes (including backside related ones) which aren’t perfectly clean, but not vulgar either. 

Insides of the book

A picture tells 1000 words, and given that Zorori series has great pictures, I’ll just take the easy route and show you. These is the Zorori Simplified Chinese version, and I believe the Traditional Version and Japanese are each the same layout. Quite fun right?

Zorori books in Simplified Chinese
Very technical drawings and contraptions, which I think would particularly appeal to boys
Each Zoroli book has several pages which are full colour printed
A splash of colour

It’s part picture book, and part graphic novel
Every book contains fun puzzles to solve
Not all the text has pinyin, but most of it does

Where to find Zorori 怪杰佐罗力 series

The first 12 books in the series of Zorori in Simplified Chinese are available in the Singapore NLB.

All the books are readily available from several stores in Singapore and so easy to find that you won’t need any pointers from me.  Simply google or walk into a good Chinese bookstore!  If you don’t know any good bookstores, my earlier post lists my favourite ten stores Chinese children’s bookstores.

These are the main Zorori titles availability in the Singapore NLB collection

What level is it for?

It would work for any child above 5, given it has full audio recording through Luka, and also pinyin above most of the words.  For a child to read the series independently, I feel about P3/P4 equivalent in the Singapore school system.

If my child likes Zorori, what are other similar books in Simplified Chinese?

Some books which my children really enjoyed at a similar reading level to Zoroli are:

I would love to know what books you think are great at this same level! Please add comments below, or through my my Instagram or Facebook feeds. It’s only through meeting other wonderful parents virtually, that this shared language journey becomes a more valuable and fun one.

If you’re in Singapore, join the conversation with other like-minded parents at the FB Group Ni Hao Singapore Primary School learning, which I host along with a few other Singapore-based bloggers.

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