Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Four or so Chinese faces lit up when I opened to the title page of George Shannon's book Rabbit's Gift today. Its subtitle is "A Fable From China," and we turned to the back matter to read his author's note about the story's origins. As each animal appears in the story, illustrator Laura Dronzek incorporates the Chinese character for that animal. I watched their lips move as they silently pronounced the animal names in Chinese and then invited them to teach the rest of us how to say them correctly. One eager boy offered to write all the animal characters he knows and bring them next week. The sweetest gift came from a girl who sat at a table with me and her classmates and carefully wrote characters and spellings, patiently teaching us to say them with her.