Today we continue our celebration of the release of Andrea Wang’s picture book, The Nian Monster.
I found so many things I loved about this book that it’s hard to focus on just one. Alina Chau’s illustrations are delightful (such a scary yet adorable Nian monster!). The notion of societal complacency requiring a sharp mind to resolve a problem it created gives a message of hope. But the writing is what struck me the most.
Andrea did a fabulous job of seamlessly weaving Chinese New Year traditions into a fiction story. It’s a lovely read, as we follow Xingling’s story of how she outsmarts the Nian monster, but along the way we’re enriched with culture. We hear the words and sounds, taste the foods, see the colors and of course, get to know that rascally Nian monster himself!
For a bit of fun, watch The Nian Monster book trailer.
When Andrea shared the book trailer with our flock of EMUs, a question came to mind:
What would you do if you encountered the Nian Monster?
So, I asked the wonderful folks here at EMU’s Debuts for their responses…
Elly Swartz: If I came face-to-face with the Nian monster, likely I would scream first. But then, in the hollow echo of my voice, I’d swallow my scared and reach out to the Nian monster. After all, something must connect us? Is it chocolate? Crossword puzzles? Going for a walk? Maybe it’s just a day hanging out with your favorite friend or a monster.
Debbi Michiko Florence: What would I do if I encountered the Nian Monster? Honestly? I’d probably scream and run for my life! But in a different world, I would like to believe I’d behave as cleverly and bravely as Xingling does. Maybe I’d trick the Nian Monster into taking a stroll to the river. I’d tell him about the delicious oysters and lobster we have in coastal Connecticut. Then he would jump into the river, and perhaps a big current would sweep him out to sea.
Christina Uss: My kids and I just watched Andrea’s trailer and our responses were:
Jack (age 9): “Hide.”
Me (age 43): “Run!”
Jack again: I’m changing my answer to “Run and then hide.”
Susannah (age 9) but sounding like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings: “Fight.”
Me and Jack: “We’re changing our answers. If you tell us how, we will stay and fight with you.”
*There’s nothing like a family who sticks together!
Terry Pierce: For me personally, whenever I’ve felt threatened, I typically “freeze” while simultaneously trying to keep a level head. With the Nian Monster, I think my “level headed” response would offer to bake him a batch of my amazing chocolate chip cookies. Homemade cookies always have a way of taming even the wildest beast! And through a mutual love of baked goods, we could strike up a conversation and find other things to chat about.
You’ve seen how Xingling and a few EMUs have responded. Now, ask yourself (if you haven’t already), what would YOU do if the Nian Monster came after you?
*Andrea will be giving away a copy of The Nian Monster — just comment on one of the posts this week to enter!
Terry writes picture books, easy readers and board books and is whittling away at a middle-grade adventure novel. She lives in the California desert but avoids the summer heat by retreating to Mammoth Lakes every summer to hike, bike, write and dip her head in high mountain sky. She’s a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate and teaches online children’s writing courses for UCLA Extension. She has two books coming out in spring 2017, My Busy Green Garden (Tilbury House) and Mama Loves You So (Little Simon).