The Nian Monster

illus. by Alina Chau. 32p. Albert Whitman. Dec. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807556429.
PreS-Gr 2—While decorating for Chinese New Year, Po Po tells Xingling about the Nian Monster, who used to eat entire villages. The New Year traditions involving loud sounds, fire, and the color red successfully scared him off. Unfortunately, that was thousands of years ago, and he's not afraid anymore! The Nian Monster returns and threatens to eat Shanghai. Using other New Year traditions of long life noodles, sticky rice cakes, and fireworks, Xingling successfully saves her city. Chau's watercolor illustrations are filled with warm colors and humor. In one spread, a crowd of people in Yu Garden flee the Nian Monster—except for one person, who would rather take a selfie with the mythical beast. The monster, who looks more adorable than menacing, spreads chaos at other Shanghai landmarks, such as People's Square and Oriental Pearl Tower, but the quick-thinking Xingling is never afraid as she enacts her plans. An author's note discusses language and some New Year's traditions seen in the story.
VERDICT This tale of New Year's high jinks has enough information to be enjoyed by those who have never encountered the holiday, and the focus on Xingling's wits and the monster's antics will be a draw for those who have celebrated it their entire lives. A fun read-aloud that's sure to induce giggles.

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