Two New Years

By Richard Ho, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield. Chronicle Books, 2023. 44 pages. $18.99/hardcover; $11.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 3–5.

Author Richard Ho has created a book that celebrates Chinese Jewish heritage. He shares the story of celebrating both Rosh Hashanah and Lunar New Year through side-by-side pages that highlight common elements of the two holidays. From the author’s note, readers will learn that this book depicts the author’s personal experience. Readers might recognize their own cultural experiences as well as ways that celebrations can vary.

On the page that says, “Both New Years inspire delicious dishes,” a person holds a tray with a jar of honey in the center surrounded by apple slices, pomegranate, fish, carrots, and other traditional Rosh Hashanah foods. The opposite page reads, “We prepare foods that symbolize togetherness and the heartfelt sharing of good wishes,” and it features a person with a tray that has an orange in the center, surrounded by lotus root, dried fruit, nuts, candies, and other Lunar New Year treats.

Illustrated by Lynn Scurfield in a bright, rich palette of inks, the artwork brings joy and vibrancy to each page. The peoples’ faces convey a mood of celebration. The illustrations include cultural details such as a Star of David necklace worn by a family member and a hanging lucky red knot Lunar New Year decoration.

The hardcover edition includes an eight-page visual glossary, bordered with colorful floral motifs, that will help caregivers and teachers guide learning opportunities. Examples of terms include grandparents (and the various names for them in both Jewish and Chinese cultures); firecrackers, a common feature of Lunar New Year festivities; and fish, important in both cultures. There is also a series of questions related to holidays and family customs.

The last page of the narrative shows two smiling adults with two children and bears the warm message: “One family. Two New Years. A shared year of double blessings.” A beautiful gift for a child of bicultural heritage, this volume could be a treasured resource for public libraries, classrooms, and meetings.

Lisa Rand is a librarian in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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