Little Lit Book Review: Chinese Picture Books [Part 1]

The Mother Tongue Language Festival, organised by the National Library, is held between 6 and 13 September 2014. So it is an opportune time to review some good-quality Chinese picture books, originally written in English, Japanese or French.


Parents who want their children to experience reading Chinese at an early age should try these books. The Chinese text in these books does not come with Hanyu Pinyin.


爷爷的爷爷的爷爷的爷爷 [Grandpa’s Grandpa’s Grandpa’s Grandpa] by Yoshifumi Hasegawa

Age Range: 3 years and above

Chinese standard: Easy


Grandpa’s Grandpa’s Grandpa’s Grandpa is multiple-award winning author-cum-illustrator Yoshifumi Hasegawa’s first book. This comical and creative book makes learning Chinese fun.



A 5-year-old boy introduces his 38-year-old father and his 72-year-old grandfather to the reader. He asks his grandfather, “What is your father like?”

GreatGrandPasGrandPa-Inside2Grandpa introduces him to his great-grandfather. His grandpa exits the page. The boy spends time with his great-grandfather and asks, “What is your father like?”

His great-grandfather introduces his father as “great-great-grandfather”. His great-grandfather exits the page. Now the boy spends time with his great-great-grandfather and asks, “What is your father like?” His great-great-grandfather introduces his father as “great-great-great-grandfather”.

The beautiful cyclical structure of this story follows the boy as he traces his lineage through each historic period and finally wonders whose grandfather he will be in the future?


My Thoughts – Shared Moments with Loved Ones


The bold, quirky illustrations add humour and depth to the boy’s story—imagining the boy sharing a meal, travelling or conversing with his ancestors—reminds us to cherish shared moments with our loved ones.

 My K2 nephew reads with glee as he keeps adding yet another “great” to the preceding “great”. Try saying “great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great-grandfather.” It is a ridiculously funny and non-threatening easy read for children learning Mandarin.




Title: 尿尿是什么? [What is Pee?] by Kyo Yamiwaki

Age Range: 3 years and above

Chinese standard: Easy


WhatisPee-CoverOriginally written by a Japanese writer, this book is perfect for potty training children, especially boys. But it is also a fun read for non-potty children learning Chinese.








The story starts when Yu Yu graduates from diapers to undies. His undies is so comfortable Yu Yu discovers he can do a series of forward rolls.



Yu Yu shares a moment with his imaginary friend, a frog print motif on the curtain that springs into secret life, just for him. Yu Yu explains to the frog what pee is, what causes someone to pee and how to pee. The story has a funny, final twist.


My thoughts – Peek into Peeing Guide

Yu Yu’s step-by-step guide on how to pee into a toilet bowl is perfect for little boys.

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