Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Vinson is fascinated when his grandfather arrives from China and practices tai chi in the backyard. When Vinson finds out it’s a martial art, he thinks it might be like kung fu but soon learns it is not. His grandfather begins to teach him the basic movements of tai chi but it is slow and requires a lot of patience. When Vinson is offered a place in the Chinese New Year parade, he’s not sure he wants to even participate. However, when he and his grandfather get to China Town, he discovers that his grandfather has been saying wonderful things about him and that everyone is very pleased to meet him. Even more importantly, the respect everyone shows his gentle, quiet grandfather changes his view of martial arts and the man himself.
This book is perfect for Chinese New Year, since that holiday is celebrated in the story. The growth of the main character is well developed, especially for a picture book. The quiet grace of tai chi is shown throughout the book, including the overall tone of the story itself.
The illustrations also reflect that quiet simplicity with their expanses of watercolor and fine lines. The illustrations are modern-feeling and capture the excitement of the New Year and the movement of martial arts with great energy.
This winning title is a dynamic but also introspective look at the Chinese New Year and tai chi. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Also reviewed by BookDragon.