Title: Bowls of Happiness
Author: Brian Tse
Illustrator: Alice Mak
Translator: Ben Wang
Genre: Children’s Picture Books/ Education/ Cultural Studies
As the kiddo grows older, she’s becoming more apt to share her opinions on things. She’s at the phase where not only is she becoming more articulate, she’s realizing that people will listen to her when she is. She’s five, a just turned five, but five nevertheless.
That being so, I like keeping her in the habit of thinking about what she likes and dislikes about what we read. I enjoy having her reiterate what we’ve read, to know that she is listening and understanding.
“I like the way the flowers are pretty and I like the way Piggy sits in the flowers and sun. And the part where the birds sing. But when Piggy and the bats run away from the rain, that wasn’t really fun. When Piggy’s bowl was finished with the flowers and the bats, that looked really pretty. I like the yellow bowl, and the yellow bowl with Piggy on it. And I like the way there is a picture with flowers with no words. I like the yellow bowl with pictures of just flowers and leaves, it’s really pretty to me. I like the bowl with Piggy inside that is blue and branches and flowers and one bird. I like the white bowl with the pond and two birds. And I like the yellow bowl with flowers and blue kind of moons and patterns on it. I learned about love and Chinese and the way people love people and I learned ALL about bowls. I think all of it is cool. And at the end with the hand with the hole and the piggy nose is pretty cool to me, the one that comes from the other page.”
Then she proceeded to find all the capital I’s in the letter from Chiu Kwwong-chiu at the end. I’m pretty sure she likes the letter I as well.
All in all, I think this book was a huge success in our house. Mostly because studying Chinese culture has always been important to us (I grew up in a Kung Fu studio) and the color yellow is kiddo’s second favorite color. There’s a lot of yellow in Bowls of Happiness.
I don’t think we’ve ever read a book laid out in this fashion, this size, separated almost in a chapter-like manner. (Story book first, then a detailed nonfiction section that could have easily been published as a separate title.) We’ve definitely not encounter one on this subject. It’s lovely.
Cultural and artistic studies are important for tiny people and teaching them about the artistry found in every day objects as well as museums is a key part of showing them the beauty of the world. I want my child to see beauty in her world, not through rose-colored lenses, but through intelligence and empathy.