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A Chinese New Year Picture Book: The Little Pigs and the Sweet Rice Cakes

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I love ANY book from Tuttle Publishing. Period.

Their mission since 1948 has been, “to discover, create, publish, and deliver best-in-class books & products that bring the World closer together one-page turn at a time.” And they continue to achieve this goal beautifully year after year.

I also especially love the fact that this company focuses their efforts solely on giving the world access to the cultures, visual arts, cuisines, languages, and literatures of Asia through the pages of their award-winning children’s and adult books.

So I wasn’t surprised at all to see that their gorgeous book, The Little Pigs and the Sweet Rice Cakes: A Story Told in English and Chinese (Stories of the Chinese Zodiac) by Li Jian made Publishers Weekly’s list of excellent children’s books for celebrating the upcoming  Chinese New Year (Year of the Pig).

A Chinese New Year Picture Book



The extra fun thing about this book (perfect for Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3) is that it is a spin on the American classic children’s story, The Three Little Pigs. Pretty much every child knows the story of the three little pigs and the big, bad wolf, so they’ll love reading about the pigs’ Chinese counterparts.

In this addition to the Stories of the Chinese Zodiac series, a pig brother describes a dream about an elderly man in English and Chinese: “He asked me to prepare sweet rice cakes for him before the Minor Spring Festival.” Later, he and his siblings gobble up an entire plate of the cakes, but none of them wants to admit it to their mother, who is “disappointed that her children lied to her about eating them.” After they work together to make the cakes again, the pigs offer the most delectable pieces to the Kitchen God (a gentle figure shown emerging from a hanging picture), and the pig brother recognizes him as the man from his dream. Jian illustrates in muted grays and jewel tones, lending the story a serene quality.

Chinese New Year picture book

When there is only a week left before Chinese New Year’s Eve, their mother lays the sweet rice cakes in front of the portrait of the Kitchen God and prays for the peace for the family. On seeing the portrait, the three little pigs realize that the old man in their dreams is actually the Kitchen God!

Chinese New Year picture book

“In this addition to the Stories of the Chinese Zodiac series, a pig brother describes a dream about an elderly man in English and Chinese: “He asked me to prepare sweet rice cakes for him before the Minor Spring Festival.” Later, he and his siblings gobble up an entire plate of the cakes, but none of them wants to admit it to their mother, who is “disappointed that her children lied to her about eating them.” After they work together to make the cakes again, the pigs offer the most delectable pieces to the Kitchen God (a gentle figure shown emerging from a hanging picture), and the pig brother recognizes him as the man from his dream. Jian illustrates in muted grays and jewel tones, lending the story a serene quality. Ages 4–8.” ―Publishers Weekly

A Chinese New Year picture book

More Awesome Books from Tuttle Publishing

Something To Do

Make your own sweet rice cakes!

A Chinese sweet rice cake is a “sweet dessert made with glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) and red bean paste. This recipe was given to me by my Chinese sister-in-law. It is a favorite of my family. It has a firm custard-like texture which is different to many western palates. ” Learn how you can make them in your own kitchen thanks to this recipe from AllRecipes.com.

Experience another yummy Chinese treat thanks to author Eugenia Chu and her book, Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子).

Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is about a little Chinese-American boy named Brandon who gets a surprise visit from his grandma from China, Pó Po (婆婆). While Brandon and Pó Po (婆婆) are making Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi (餃子), Brandon makes a mess and he and Pó Po (婆婆) have a good laugh!

Chinese dumplings are known as jiǎo zi (餃子), or guo tie (鍋貼) (pot stickers) when pan-fried. Jiǎo zi are made and eaten throughout the year, but especially during Chinese New Year because they represent wealth and prosperity as they have the shape of gold nuggets, the ancient Chinese currency for money.

On Eugenia’s website, readers and kitchen fanatics will find an excellent recipe for Brandon’s jiǎo zi HERE 

Jiao zi recipe

Learn more about Chinese Birth Signs:

“Twelve Chinese Animal Birth Signs might sound new to you.  But what if we told you that these are the Chinese animals that rotate over a 12-year cycle? You may immediately know what they are.  You might even know that after the year of the DOG comes the year of the PIG.” Learn more about this fascinating topic via this great post from MulticulturalKidBlogs.com and discover the 12 Chinese Animal Birth Signs – Chinese New Year


2 thoughts on “A Chinese New Year Picture Book: The Little Pigs and the Sweet Rice Cakes

  1. I loved this posting and with what looks like a sweet story that also relays important cultural information in a subtle way. Great follow up activities. Looks like a winner to me.

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