Author Tricia Morrissey is a newcomer to the children’s books scene but already she has five stories under her belt. Starting with My Mom is a Dragon, all of Morrissey’s several books are centered on the Chinese culture. Her titles include Everyday Life through Chinese Peasant Art , My Dad is a Board, and H is for Hong Kong A Primer in Pictures. Her second called Hiss! Pop! Boom! focuses on the history and customs of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.
What will you hope for in the new year? A new baby being born? Grudges to be forgotten? Whatever you desire, the new year is full of opportunities and it all starts with the Chinese New Year. This holiday is a 15-day celebration that has a detailed beginning much like Saint Patrick’s Day for the Irish. And much like Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone becomes that nationality on their special days. With these popular holidays, come many questions. Typical questions asked about Chinese New Year are often about firecrackers. Why are they so important to the holiday? Why do families decorate their homes with oranges and flowers? Why do people give red envelopes as gifts? What does Year of the Ox mean?
Most people can’t rattle off the answers off the tops of their heads, but thanks to books like Hiss! Pop! Boom! you can answer any of the questions your young readers throw at you. The easy-to-read text and beautiful illustrations make this book a wonderful read. Your kids won’t even realize they’re learning something. Tricia Morrissey’s illustrator Kong Lee draws gorgeous calligraphy and beautiful Chinese brush painting to show each part of the 15-day celebration.
There’s also an explanation of the dancing dragon puppets are featured in the Chinese New Year parade. The tradition actually started long ago when some mischievous bandits played a prank on a nearby village. They dressed up as a scary animal, forcing the villagers to flee. They returned to their homes the next morning to find their homes were ransacked. The villagers, Morrissey writes, said the mess was caused by the scary creature and planned a response for when the beast reappeared. Some of the villagers dressed as lions to scare it away. This time, the bandits fled in fear. Every year since, the villagers dressed in lion costumes just in case the feared creature returned.
There are so many nuances to the Chinese New Year that Tricia Morrissey eloquently talks about in Hiss! Pop! Boom! You’ll love every one of the creatively designed 32 pages, and so will your young readers ages 4 to 8. What a great tradition to start in your own family!