Two New Years by Richard Ho

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Two New Years by Richard Ho (illustrated by Lynn Scurfield; Chronicle Books, 2023) features a child in a unique situation: she celebrates two new years each year. I had thought it would be about the Chinese New Year and the traditional January 1 date, but I was wrong. This child celebrates Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) as well as the lunar New Year!

With a hidden educational message about these different cultures (Chinese and Jewish), Two New Years was a refreshing book for opening a discussion about both cultures. It was shelved with Chinese New Years books in my library.

The illustrations sometimes seem to reflect a Chinese painting style. For example, the endpapers looks like cut paper with bright colors behind it. But there are also plenty of depictions of the Jewish culture as well, such as the star of David in the margins of frames. The two styles seamlessly blend together.

Similarly, both New Years celebrate with food and decorations. Words from each culture appear in the text too. As a whole, the book compares and contrasts the experiences of both holidays, but above all it emphasizes the similarities and the rich traditions their entire family enjoys with them a part of their lives. End matter provides further explanations about the two traditions.

Two New Years was a A Sydney Taylor Gold Medalist (great books reflecting the Jewish experience) and a National Jewish Book Award Winner.

Reviewed on April 18, 2024

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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