Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lin Yi's Lantern

Lin Yi's Lantern
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 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]


sathish said...

Tharini, The cover picture is so enticing and inviting.

Tharini said...

It is, isn't it? Have you checked out Lacombe's website?

sathish said...

Tharini, I did and pretty impressed with his sketches that he has in his blog too!. His snow white looks very inviting too.

Thanks for this reference. Get added into my wishlist. Is that photo winkie's lantern? Wow. Very nice. please pass on my congrats to him.

Tharini said...

Sathish : Yes it is. This was a first, when he moved instantly from a book to the suggested craft and finished it, all on his own.

sandhya said...

Wow, that lantern does look lovely. I love it, too, when a book leads A to any activity.

Interesting, isn't it, how traditions are so similar the world over-this is one thing that has really struck me during CROCUS. In India, too, we have Sharath Poornima in the north and Kojagiri Poornima in Maharashtra- which is celebrated with a lot of music and dance, with saffron flavoured thickened sweet milk as the sweet of the day. As also the karva chauth, 4 days after the full moon, which celebrates the moon. I have also heard of the 'harvest moon' in the west.

And barefoot books- of course it has to be something special. Will look out for this one, Tharini.

utbtkids said...

Sandhya, cool, you neatly pointed out the various festivals centered around the moon :)

T, will check it out.

Meera Sriram said...

Tharini, the picture on the cover almost seems moonlit ..I love it!
The pick is also very appropriate - for crocus and otherwise, well timed:)

artnavy said...

very nice work on the lantern by winkie.Happy Diwali! I wonder if I will find this book here easily...

Poppins said...

Tried UTBT's experiment and guessed the review as yours :)

Poignant, and touching.

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