During the Mid-Autumn Festival, a girl hears her Ah-ma tell the story of the lady whose image adorns the mooncakes. Long ago, Hou Yi the archer saved his people from the scorching heat of 10 suns, and was gifted an immortality potion. But his wife, Chang’e, swallowed the potion to prevent a thief from taking it. Realizing that she had become the Spirit and Lady in the Moon, Hou Yi honored Chang’e by presenting her favorite foods, including round cakes. One double-page spread features family members around acircular table, which emphasizes the motif of the full moon. The cartoonlike illustrations are reminiscent of Tomie dePaola, with warm reds and yellows effectively used to depict the heat of the 10 suns, while cool greens and blues show the earth’s relief under only one sun. Useful for introducing a significant festival celebrated in Chinese and other East Asian cultures. An author’s note includes a recipe for mooncakes with red bean filling.
In this title, a grandmother (aka Ahma) tells the story behind the Mid-Autumn Festival. Long ago, 10 suns became bored and decided not to shine individually but came out all at once, causing big problems on Earth. Hou Yi, a young archer, comes to the rescue by shooting down nine of the suns. He is rewarded for his efforts with a mafic potion that will let him live forever in the sky. He and his wife, Chang’e, hide it to keep it safe. When a thief breaks in, Chang’e swallows it, and becomes the Spirit and Lady in the Moon. Seeing her silhouette on the moon, Hou Yi realizes that his wide is now immortal. He is sad, but on the anniversary of when she became Spirit of the Lady in the Moon, he remembers her by putting out her favorite foods like small cakes. In addition to the story, there is more information about the Mid-Autumn Festival and a recipe for mooncakes with redbean filling. The engaging story within a story is well written and may be relatable to many children. For example, the mooncakes are described as being “as small as my hand and as round as the moon.” The cartoon illustrations are colorful and modern, yet complement the timeless tale. VERDICT: A good introduction to the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese culture, perfect for classroom use or one-on-one reading.
—School Library Journal