Saturday, October 30, 2010
A Moon Festival tale
by Brenda Williams & Benjamin Lacombe
Published by Barefoot Books
Ages : 7-10 years
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people, dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty. It is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.
It is celebrated sometime in September or early October, coinciding to when the moon is at its fullest and roundest. It is one of the few most important holidays in the Chinese calendar.
Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together. They also carry brightly lit lanterns, plant mid autumn trees and retell the story of the moon fairy, who on the night of the moon festival, might just be seen dancing across the face of the moon, like a beautiful shadow!
The story in our book is based on a celebration of the moon festival and all the excited preparations by a little boy, Lin Yi, who is sent to the market, by his mother to use his bargaining skills to get the best prices for moon cakes, star fruit, rice, yams, and peanuts for Uncle Hui, who simply loves them. And if after all that, there is still some money left over, he would be able to buy himself a red rabbit lantern for the moon festival that night.
Well, we can perhaps sense what may have happened. Of how he would have made his way to the market, dancing and skipping along, bargaining eagerly and buying all the items on his list, in the order laid out by his mother. And how he may have ended up not having enough to buy his cherished red rabbit lantern. In fact, he reaches a point, where he has to choose between buying Uncle Hui's favorite peanuts or his favorite lantern, which decorated in gold, looked just too good to resist. But resist, he does, albeit a little sadly. And goes home with his purchases of the day. And bites back his tears and puts up a big smile as he presents Uncle Hui his peanuts.
It really is touching.....to be a witness to this internal struggle, as much as it is an honor, to take pride in his internal triumph. And even more deeply satisfying to see that Uncle Hui has a gift of his own to give, to his little, sweet nephew. A beautiful, red rabbit lantern, even more beautiful than anything Lin Yi ever dreamed of having. It is a moment of happiness, such that we all feel like climbing the moonlit mountain, munching peanuts along the way and eating mooncakes on the top, sitting under the night sky, giving thanks to the beautiful moon, and perhaps being even lucky enough to glimpse a wisp of the shadow of the beautiful moon fairy!
The cover picture of the little boy, on top of the great, big moon, his face glowing in the soft light of a beautiful, red rabbit lantern in the mystique of the night, perhaps says everything about the illustrations, that lead up to this grand and fitting finale. And of happy endings, where you can close your book with a smile, knowing that all is well that ends well!
But the fun sort of continues, even after you close the book. For featured on the last few pages, are detailed instructions on how you can make your very own red rabbit lantern. Once Winkie set his eyes on it, he was seized with motivation, and quickly went about getting all the supplies, and without asking for any help whatsoever, crafted his very own lantern, with a rabbit motif to boot. Maybe we shall welcome the next full moon, with our own homemade celebration! Care to join us? :)
[Pic Courtesy of : Mama's Little Helper via Google images]