AWB (Award-Winning-Books) 2015 Books GB Challenges It's Monday What Are You Reading Literary Silk Road - China and Middle East Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Ying Chang Compestine’s Picturebooks: “Crouching Tiger” and “The Runaway Rice Cake”


Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the coming year.


Here is the sign up page and the May-June linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Lone Wolf, courtesy of Pansing books.

Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.


Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing the award-winning author Ying Chang Compestine here at The Arts House in Singapore. This year, I am excited to see her again as she is one of the guest speakers at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. Really looking forward to catching up with her. These are two of her picturebooks you may want to check out.

IMG_5001The Runaway Rice Cake

Written by: Ying Chang Compestine Illustrated by: Tungwai Chau
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2001
Book given by Pansing Books for review. Book photos taken by me.

The Chang family were gathered together during one Chinese New Year’s Eve, offering burning incense to the Kitchen God and smearing honey on the Kitchen God’s lips. While the middle boy Cong wanted to pray for a big feast, Da the youngest boy reminded him that it is only the Emperor of Heaven who gets to decide who will be rewarded.


They were a poor family who only managed to prepare one nian-gao (rice cake) for the Chinese New Year to be divided among the five members of the family. However, as their mother is about to cut the rice cake, it came alive, just like the Gingerbread Man and started to run outside to escape the knife’s slice. The entire family chased the runaway rice cake as it ran past the pigs, the fishermen, and even the lion dancers, and bumped right into an old woman, where it was finally caught by Momma Chang.


The family soon learned that the old woman was starving and haven’t had anything to eat for the past several days. Da, the youngest boy, offered their rice cake to the old woman, which the latter accepted with profuse gratitude. Cong, the middle boy, was naturally peeved, as now the family has nothing to eat for Chinese New Year.


When they arrived home, however, a surprise awaited them – what it is, I shall leave for you to discover. This story has folkloric elements to it which show how good deeds are eventually rewarded – without sounding too trite. Teachers would also be happy to note that there is an extensive backmatter which details how Chinese New Year is usually celebrated as well as detailed recipes for baked and steamed nian-gao. Yum!

Crouching TigerIMG_0943

Written by: Ying Chang Compestine Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2011
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Vinson’s Grandfather has come all the way from China to visit their family for the Chinese New Year. Instead of calling him by his American name, Grandfather insisted on calling Vinson Ming Da, his Chinese name.


I like the image shown above as it sets the entire calm, quiet, rested tone that could be sensed throughout the entire book. Every day, Vinson sees his Grandfather dance slowly in their garden with his eyes closed.


When Vinson found out that Grandfather was doing tai-chi, a form of martial arts, he started joining his Grandfather so that he could learn some of the moves. I especially liked how Vinson’s ambivalence about his Grandfather is portrayed so realistically here: his embarassment about being called by his Chinese name and his reluctance to talk to his Grandfather as they travel by bus and escaping either through his headphones or the books that he brings to shut out his Grandfather’s presence.


There were certain key pivotal points in the story, however, that made Vinson regard his Grandfather quite differently – what these moments are, I shall leave for you to discover. This is a must-read, especially for young readers who are in-between cultures and are learning more about their heritage to help them form their identities.

Ying Chang Compestine will be doing one of the Keynotes for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content this year. If you are in the area, make sure that you don’t miss this biggest kidlit event in this part of the world.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 5.51.41 pm

Currently Reading…


I finished reading From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by e.l. konigsburg while I was in the bus on the way to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore. It remains as riveting a read as the first time I encountered it a few years back.

I was not able to start reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky as I was so riveted by Neil Gaiman’s The Kindly Ones which I hope to finish today. I know I have to read Wallflower though as our book club meeting is this Saturday! Yikes!


Crouching Tiger is the Winner of the Panda Book Award in China, Winner of The Morning Calm Award in South Korea, The Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book of 2011

#AWBRead2015 Reading Challenge: 45 (35)

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] Ying Chang Compestine’s Picturebooks: “Crouching Tiger” and “The Runaway Rice Cake”

  1. I love seeing about both these picture books, new to me, but they do sound so good, Myra. I love Konigsburg’s stories, also wonderful. Thanks, & enjoy your week!


  2. Hooray for Ying Chang Compestine books and keynote!! 🙂


  3. Loved reading your Nerdy post today, Myra! I love hearing about everyone’s book journey 🙂


  4. Such unusual picture books, Myra – lovely stories, too!


  5. I’m really glad you introduced me to The Many Woods of Grief. I’m in the process of dealing with loss, and I find sometimes poetry can open doors and give me permission to acknowledge and feel it fully.


  6. Both of these picture books look wonderful. I enjoy the MIXED UP FILES every time I read it. I also enjoyed your post over at The Nerdy Book Club about how your book clubs have taken off.


  7. I was so excited to see your post today on the Nerdy Book Club! Wonderful to read about your book clubs! The Runaway Rice Cakes is a wonderful read. Crouching Tiger is new for me – I love the look of the illustrations. After a recent sudden death in my extended family, I was drawn to The Many Woods of Grief – what a lovely title. I will be searching for this book.


  8. I loved The Mixed up Files – we listed to this as an audio book as a family and all enjoyed it. Loved reading your post on Nerdy Book Club. So very interesting!


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