When Panda Came to Our House
By Helen Zane Jensen
I am constantly discovering through thoughtful friends, picture books that have slipped by my radar, which is one of the main reasons I started The Snuggery. There are so many classic reads or soon-to-be classic picture book reads, that it’s hard to keep up. And so, for parents and grands who loved these wonderful books, and want to share them, or shall I say, MUST share them with the next generation, The Snuggery blog was conceived.
From the flyleaf of this very thoughtful and informative picture book from 1985, suggested to me by a friend, I learned that Helen Zane Jensen has always had a interest and fascination with the Orient; its art, culture and folklore.
In When Panda Came to Our House, she’s found a perfect vehicle to share that love with picture book readers.
What child wouldn’t look forward to a unexpected visit from one of these furry, black and white bears that are actually part of the raccoon family! Who knew!
Appearing suddenly in a very dear and nonchalant presence at her doorway, this bear companion is not only a playmate for the young girl whose house it casually drops in on, but is also an ambassador of information, during its stay, of all things Chinese. And it’s right in time for the lunar New Year!
Imaginative and informative, huge Panda lumbers in, makes himself to home for a visit and chats, well, about things he loves…and that would be the alternative to flash cards, called the abacus, with future introductions promised to friends of Chinese lore known as the phoenix and the dragon. They may be termed supernatural, but as the young girl opines, “I said they look fine to me.”
Yo-yo practice is fun as well as flying eight-sided kites. Pale green tea is sipped through delicately small cups and food fried in a wok is eaten with chopsticks.
It’s a sharing of cultures when the visiting Panda from China learns to brush up on helpful and necessary English phrases such as “How do you do,” “Have a nice day,” and “Would you please pass the bamboo?”
Young readers will treasure this Panda visit with very little “pandemonium” (couldn’t resist) via Ms Zane Jensen’s gentle introduction to the culture and custom of his native land.
A Glossary of Chinese Terms and Definitions can be found at the back of the picture book. Words such as “tofu,” “Mandarin” and others, with their Chinese counterpart symbols side by side with its English translation.
Her black and white charming and captivating illustrations reinforce the black
and white coloring of this visitor from China.
Even the glass peach that Panda leaves as a departing gift has meaning. It’s a symbol of long life and springtime.
Long may Panda and his picture book live.
Wonder how bamboo shoots taste?
I’ve read they are crisp and tender, somewhat like asparagus, with a taste similar to corn.
Have to give them a try! Thanks, Panda!
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