In the Snow. Huy Voun Lee. Henry Holt and Company. 1995.
When is a trip to the library extraordinary? When you stumble across a gem like this book. “In the Snow” is part of a series by Huy Voun Lee that introduces Chinese characters to children. The Chinese lesson is framed by a story of a boy walking through the woods on a snowy day with his mother. Along the way she stops to teach him ten Chinese characters.
Wisely, the books is grounded in characters that look something like what they represent. The first character introduced is wood. From there several different words utilizing the same component are introduced. After the stable of wood-words is exhausted we get a bit of weather, the sun, and the moon.
The illustrations use a paper collage style that has just the right level of abstraction. Since it takes a bit of creative vision to really believe a character looks like what it represents, Lee has used her own creative vision to do just that. The pictures are colorful, and the layers used in the paper give a nice texture to the images.
Teaching kids to read 2,500 Chinese characters may be hard, but with this books teaching kids to be interested in 10 is easy.