First Apple (bilingual)
By Ching Yeung Russell
Reading Level: Junior to Senior Secondary
This autobiographical novel is set in southern China in the 1940's. It tells the story of Ying (the author), a nine-year-old girl, and her dream to buy a special gift for her grandmother's birthday - an apple - a precious and rare fruit in her part of mainland China. She faced great obstacles to achieving her dream, even though she works hard.
This first novel by a Chinese immigrant is touching, dramatic and well presented in a format that is accessible to readers at chapter book level and beyond. The child's voice and the intensity of her desire to do something for her grandmother, who has raised her from early childhood, are very real. It teaches a moral lesson to readers using a sweet story. Besides, it offers readers a glance of Chinese culture. The novel received eight awards, including the 1994 Parent's Choice Award and the 1996 New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Award.
Publisher: HK: Greenfield, 2004
On sale at Readingland in Castle Peak Road.
How Grandmother Spider Got the Sun: a Cherokee Tale
By Lilly Ernesto
Reading Level: Pre-school
A possum and a buzzard tried to grab the sun but fail. Grandmother Spider uses her wits to capture the sun. Finally, everybody is delighted with the warmth and light of the sun.
This is a simple yet meaningful folktale.
Many people want things done their own way, even if it means ignoring other people's feelings. For this reason they often fail. In this story, Grandmother Spider was the one who captured the sun because she did it for the good of everybody, not just herself.
The story conveys important messages to children: 'What do we do things for?' 'How can we get things done without harming others?'.
The pictures are bright and colourful so children can clearly see the expressions of all the characters. This allows them to make predictions while reading.
Publisher: US: Houghton Miffin, 1995. On sale at Readingland.
Pretty Girl By Ana Maria Machado
Reading Level: Junior to Senior Primary
Once upon a time there was a white rabbit who adored a pretty, black-skinned girl. The rabbit wanted to be as black as she was. The rabbit repeatedly asked, 'Pretty Girl, pretty girl. You're so black. What's your secret?' The girl made up all sorts of stories and gave the rabbit useless hints, such as telling him to pour a bottle of black ink over his body, to drink gallons of black coffee and so on. The poor rabbit tried each suggestion in vain, until one day he finally discovered the truth from the pretty girl's mother.
This is a delightful story of a rabbit finding out that beauty is more than skin deep. With the comical outlines and beautiful illustrations, the story tells us to appreciate our identity and heredity. It also challenges the conventional idea that 'beauty' is white or fair.
Publisher: Japan: Shinseken Limited, 2000
The King of Almost Everything (bilingual) By Eliardo Franca
Reading Level: Junior Primary
The King of Almost Everything has almost everything, but he still wants more. He even wants to own the sun and the stars - until he learns that there are more important things than having everything. At last the King of Almost Everything wishes nothing more for himself, for he already has everything he needs.
This award-winning Brazilian folk tale, coming in English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Brazilian-Portuguese editions, prompts young readers to ponder the concept of 'emptiness' and 'satisfaction'. It is hard for children to know when to stop asking for more. It is also difficult for parents to say no.
With colourful illustrations and simple messages on every page, children will learn that being satisfied does not come from 'how much' you have; it's 'what' you have that counts.
Publisher: HK: Commercial Press, 2004. On sale at Readingland.
Turtle By Hamid Reza Beidaghi
Reading Level: Pre-school to Junior Primary
Frustrated at being so slow, a turtle tried using bird's wings, rabbit's feet and fish's fins to go faster. The turtle eventually realised that these things all gave him more problems. He came to learn it is most important to just be yourself.
Developing a healthy self-esteem is key to a happy and accomplished life. This picture book prompts readers to reflect on their self-image and self- worth. While reading along with children, parents can ask some questions, like: 'What do you want to become?' 'Will you do what the turtle did?' 'Will you be happy when your wish comes true?' Such questions are open-ended and let children give their own opinions. The animal illustrations will also fascinate.
Publisher: Japan: Shinseken Limited, 2003