Resolutions can be restarted at Lunar New Year
When I lamented that January had flown by and I had yet to follow through on my New Year's resolutions, a wise friend told me that those of us who celebrated Lunar New Year could just start our resolutions again.
So instead of feeling dejected for abandoning my pledges so early, I embraced this second chance - and my husband left me without any additional excuses by presenting me with a new gym membership on Lunar New Year's Day.
It's been a few years since I have made any resolutions at all, so I welcome the Year of the Snake with some enthusiasm. According to fung shui experts, the coming year is one that is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. You need to have focus and discipline to achieve your goals.
Pigs have a special place in my heart. My elder daughter was born in the Year of the Pig, along with a number of family members and close friends. Unfortunately, this new year may not bode well for pigs due to the premise that snakes and pigs do not get along.
To keep mischance at bay, I plan a steady and disciplined continuation of humour-filled days. We often read or re-enact the story of The Three Little Pigs, always singing "not by the hair of my chinny chin-chin" in a taunting, high-pitched voice. By reading aloud my favourite variations on this classic folk tale, I can surely ratchet up the laughter in our home.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, written by funnyman Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Caldecott winner Lane Smith, tells the fractured story from the point of view of the wolf: "'There has obviously been some kind of mistake,' writes Alexander T. Wolf from the pig penitentiary where he's doing time for his alleged crimes of 10 years ago."
Another version with a twist is The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Helen Oxenbury contributes her warm watercolour illustrations to this first English-language picture book by Greek children's author Eugene Trivizas. Mother wolf warns her three children about the big, bad pig before they set off to build their homes. Pig gives up on the huffing and puffing and resorts to using a sledgehammer and other means to break down the wolves' increasingly fortified homes.
In the end, a delightful surprise helps the pig give up his destructive ways and befriend the wolves.
Huff & Puff: Can You Blow Down the Houses of the Three Little Pigs? is an interactive retelling by Claudia Rueda, with the reader playing the role of the wolf.
Preschoolers will especially enjoy huffing and puffing through the picture book's die-cut holes.
David Wiesner's The Three Pigs is an avant-garde version that is well suited for older children. Wiesner cleverly upends the notion of a surprise twist when the pigs unexpectedly escape the wolf by jumping off the storybook page and into other worlds, where they meet the cat and the fiddle and the cow that jumped over the moon.
My elder daughter was born at the tail end of the Year of the Pig, so a friend mistakenly told her that she was born in the Year of the Mouse. She knows the order of the zodiac animals and loves that the mouse places first. She frowns whenever I try to suggest that she is actually the last-placed pig.
So this column is my subtle way of helping my daughter face the cold hard truth: "Dear child, if you were really born in the Year of the Mouse, don't you think mummy would have more books about mice?"
Annie Ho is board chairwoman of Bring Me A Book Hong Kong, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving children's literacy by reading aloud to them (bringmeabook.org.hk)