Thanking the Moon

What It Is

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, is the “thanksgiving” holiday for the Chinese and many Asian people. The book’s narrator, a young girl, tells how her family prepares for the celebration, which includes a nighttime picnic under the full moon. Complete with Chinese culinary delights such as moon cakes, pomelos and tea, the family enjoys the feast as they give thanks to the “moon for bringing us together” and make wishes for the future.

Why It’s Fun

Kids love to learn about celebrations in other countries. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s fun to look at how other cultures celebrate the fall harvest. Grace Lin’s painted illustrations effectively draw the audience into the night air along with the narrator and set the stage for a rich cultural experience. However, her story lacks the detail that would help kids and parents fully understand and appreciate the celebration. For example, it would have been nice to know if the food served is typical of a Mid-Autumn Festival? Does the family prepare it together and if so, how? Could we have learned some simple Chinese vocabulary? Ms. Lin gives an explanation of the festival for adults at the end of the book, but I wish she had worked these interesting facts into the story to give it more depth.

Who’s Going To Love It

The publisher’s recommended ages are 5- to 8-year olds, but the story’s simplicity and brevity would be more suited to 2- to 4-year-olds. Older children crave details about peers in other parts of the world. The fall is a wonderful time to celebrate the splendor of nature with its beautiful foliage and bounty of natural foods, and we would have loved to learn more about this important Chinese celebration. Perhaps it’s a good library pick and can even spark a lesson on how to search the stacks for other books about the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Reading Time

About one minute

Read-It-Again Points

5 out of 10

Book Information

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
By: Written and Illustrated by Grace Lin
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books (2010)
Approximate retail price: $16.99 (hardcover)
Publisher’s recommended ages: 5 - 8


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