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KS1 Book Club: I Love Chinese New Year by Eva Wong Nava (Scholastic)

Illustrated by Xin Li

For ages 3-6

I had the pleasure of meeting author Eva Wong Nava at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2022. We happened to come together by chance and I couldn't have met a more lovelier person to buddy up with off and on throughout the day. Hence, I'd been keeping an eye out for her forthcoming title with Scholastic UK and here it is... although publishing in December 2022, I wanted to save it for my KS1 book club just before Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year on 22nd January 2023.

Eva has create a gorgeous story and genially packed it with the story of the Chinese Zodiac and Chinese New Year traditions. What's even more fantastic is that Mai-Anne, our protagonist, was born in the year of the monkey... much to the absolute delight of all the children in the book club who were born in 2016 (or so they told me, some were a little unsure). Xin Li has stunningly illustrated the story with vibrant and colourful artwork, which is so engaging and a perfect accompaniment.

Illustration © Xin Li
Illustration © Xin Li

Mai-Anne is very excited about her lunar New Year preparations - a new moon, a new year and much to look forward to. The author sensitively points out in the very first paragraph in the book that although they are celebrating lunar New Year, Mai-Anne's family is Chinese and her family has their own traditions (as opposed to perhaps some variations in Malaysia or Vietnam for instance).

With a soft-approach narrative flow, the author educates the reader all about the preparations before lunar New Year begins: cleaning the house, putting up the decorations, displaying bamboo and cherry blossoms (for health), hanging a 'Fu' word upside down (for good luck), and putting out 8 tangerines (for good wishes).

Like many cultures New Year is a time for family and friends to get together. Mai-Anne is very excited about the 'Reunion Dinner' the night before as her Nai Nai (Grandmother) and Uncle have joined her and her parents for some very delicious looking food, some of which holds very positive symbolic meaning. At this point we had a great chat in the group about Chinese food and some of the children have a tradition of all their family coming to their home every Saturday night for Chinese take away. No-one said they didn't enjoy Chinese food!

Nai Nai tells Mai-Anne the story of the Chinese Zodiac... the Great Race. We all loved hearing Nai Nai's story, learning all about each of the animals and what they symbolise. I was made to promise the children I'd look up each of their birth years as soon as the story was finished! Such fun! I had forgotten mine, so I was keen to remind myself too.

This is a really lovely book to share with children at school or at home before or on lunar New Year. Children will enjoy finding out all about the symbolism and traditions, and will find familiarity in the joy of family gatherings and the love of a special grandparent. At the end of the story the author and illustrator have thoughtfully included 'Eight Lucky Facts about Chinese New Year' and 'Five Fiery Facts about the Dragon Dance'.

Here's the first page of the story... enjoy!

Words © Eva Wong Nava + Illustrations © Xin Li
Words © Eva Wong Nava + Illustrations © Xin Li

Creative fun

As you know I am partial to creating my own activity sheets for my KS1 book clubs! However, when I saw that the brilliant Nosy Crow and illustrator, Kate McLellan published a new decorations activity book in their 'Press Out and Decorate' series in association with The British Museum all about the Chinese Zodiac, I thought 'WIN WIN!!'.

The children had SO MUCH FUN decorating these creatures and putting the simple paper models together. They were delightful at helping each other too when needed. As you can see from the photos below, they did so very well and their decorations are so beautiful. As always we don't tend to have time to finish activities before the club finishes, so they took them home to show their parents or carers and finish them later. So lovely!

Inside the front and back covers of the book are illustrations of each creature with a birth year guide and meaning below each one. Just what we needed!

Here's a photo gallery of my book club kids' work in progress... so proud of them...

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi

恭喜发财, 万事如意

About the creators

Eva Wong Nava (author of 'I Love Chinese New Year')

Author, Eva Wong Nava

Eva Wong Nava is a children’s book author who loves tiger tales. She was born on a tropical island where monsoon winds blow and tigers once roamed freely. When the winds changed, she moved to cooler climates for love, work, and family. Eva combines degrees in English Literature and Art History and she often writes stories inspired by her culture, which is fantastical and magical. As a monkey child, she had a childhood filled with mischief and antics. Her favourite deity is the Monkey King. When not writing, Eva is a sensitivity editor at The Writing Essentials, because she cares about how her people, culture, and heritage are represented in books; wearing her teacher hat, she also reads for SENs because she wants children with learning needs to be represented accurately and sensitively. Eva has written an award-winning middle-grade novel about a boy on the spectrum and his relationship with Monkey, the god who can transform a needle into a staff. She writes across age groups and her recent book is a YA historical novel, which was long listed for a prize by the SoA. Eva has forthcoming books that will keep children roaring with excitement. She lives in the Land of Albion with a tiger, dog, and goat.


Xin Li (illustrator of 'I Love Chinese New Year')

Illustrator, Xin Li

Xin Li was born and raised in China and currently lives in Norway with her husband and their daughter. After years working as an interaction designer in the software design industry, she found her true passion in visual storytelling. Xin loves quiet magic, surrealism, and stories that evoke imagination.


Kate McLelland (illustrator of 'The British Museum Press Out and Decorate: Chinese Zodiac')

Illustrator, Kate McLelland

For as long as she can remember, Kate McLelland has loved drawing and painting. Outdoor holidays with her family inspired hours of doodling animals and nature. She is the illustrator for Press Out and Colour: Christmasand Easter, and has a number of books being published, including Blackbird, Blackbird, What Do You Do? (Hodder Children’s Books) and What’s Below?(Egmont). Kate lives in West Lothian with her husband and two children.


Key themes

Chinese New Year

lunar New Year

Chinese tradition

Chinese culture

Chinese zodiac

Chinese food


Grab a copy

Buy here through my affiliate link at or purchase from your local independent bookshop...

Publication date: 8 December 2022

Format: Paperback

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