Happy Lunar New Year to you, friends! Whether you are celebrating Chinese New Year, Tết, Shōgatsu, Seollal, or Tsagaan Sar today, we wish you all a wonderful, joyful, and prosperous new year.
Lunar New Year is one of my favourite days of the year. I love the festivities, connecting with my family, taking a moment to pause and reflect on the last year, and also the wonderful food that bring us all together. To celebrate this auspicious day, let’s share what the Pond friends got up to for Lunar New Year in today’s Story-Time, and we’ll close with some awesome books where Lunar New Year happened in the story!
Today is Lunar New Year and you decide to visit your friends at the Pond to wish them a splendid Lunar New Year today. As you follow the familiar path to the Pond, you see red lanterns hung in the forest trees, giving the forest a rare warm glow. Gen must have been so busy putting all the decorations together.
Stepping through the Pond’s magical boundary, the Pond friends – delighted to see you – wave you over. Except, a little red Chinese lion puts a pause in your step, as it hobbles towards you. You crouch down to greet the little lion, which looks at you inquisitively, blinking its wide eyes.
“Hello friend!” says Cuddle, who takes off the lion’s head. She’s still wearing her purple pajama cap, but she’s also wearing the red frilly pants for the lion’s leg. “Do you like our lion dance costume? We are practicing for our show before our feast tonight!”
Sprout flutters down from above and sits atop Cuddle’s head. “I’m playing the drum!” they chirp, beating the drum, which floats with Varian’s magic. “We’ve been practicing and we can’t wait to show you.”
You look around you, not seeing your favourite axolotl friend anywhere. You ask them where Xiaolong is.
At the mention of her name, Xiaolong springs up from under the lion’s body. “Here I am!” she exclaims, her hands in the air. “Cuddle is a much better lion than I am. I’m good at being the butt though.”
Cuddle and Sprout giggle. “Let’s get ready Xiaolong! It’s almost our turn!”
The three Pond friends waddle off. You say hello to Gen (who is wearing ox horns in celebration for the year of the ox), Varian (who is magicking food for the feast), and Amina (who is humming a Teresa Teng song to herself). Everyone is dressed in either red or gold; bright and happy colours to usher the new year with hope and light.
Suddenly, the sound of firecrackers erupt in the Pond. You jump a little and see Varian conjuring bursts of magic. Sprout joins in the crackling with passionate beats of their drum. Cuddle and Xiaolong, as the Chinese lion, jump up and down, doing an elaborate dance. The lion blinks, bobbing its head up and down to the beat of Sprout’s drum. You clap to Sprout’s drum, laughing as the lion does a little butt wiggle. When the lion approaches, you crouch down to greet the little lion, which seems to look at you inquisitively, blinking its wide eyes. You touch the little lion’s head gently – for good luck!
When Cuddle, Xiaolong, and Sprout finish their performance, you clap with the other friends. And when Varian announces that its time to eat and you take a seat at the table, passing each other food, you smile, your heart light and warm.
Book Recommendations for Lunar New Year
Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee
Mindy is excited to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Even though it’s the first one without her mom, Mindy is determined to enjoy the day. She decides to make traditional Korean New Year food, a rice cake soup that’s her favorite. But things aren’t going quite to plan, and the celebration doesn’t feel the same as it did before.
With the help of her family and friends, can Mindy find a way to still enjoy her old holiday traditions, and create new ones along the way?
Rent-A-Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.
Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.
When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.
But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?
A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.
If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.
For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.
But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.
Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders by Aliette de Bodard
Lunar New Year should be a time for familial reunions, ancestor worship, and consumption of an unhealthy amount of candied fruit.
But when dragon prince Thuan brings home his brooding and ruthless husband Asmodeus for the New Year, they find not interminable family gatherings, but a corpse outside their quarters. Asmodeus is thrilled by the murder investigation; Thuan, who gets dragged into the political plotting he’d sworn off when he left, is less enthusiastic.
It’ll take all of Asmodeus’s skill with knives, and all of Thuan’s diplomacy, to navigate this one—as well as the troubled waters of their own relationship….
- Happy Lunar New Year, friends! What are you doing to celebrate during this festive season?
- Do you have any recommendations for a book that takes place in Lunar New Year? Let us know!