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Monday, January 20, 2014

Goldy Luck and Three Pandas Blog Tour {Review and Interview}

I'm so excited to have the Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas Blog Tour stopping by today! Check out my Review of this picture book and my Interview with author Natasha Yim...

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
by Natasha Yim
illustrated by Grace Zong
Charlesbridge Publishing

In this Chinese American retelling of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda’s rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year

A Junior Library Guild selection.

I received a galley of this title in exchange for my honest review*

Natasha Yim’s picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, is an adorable and sweet Chinese American Goldilocks and Three Bears retelling. Little Goldy is sent by her mother, on the Chinese New Year, to wish their panda neighbors happy new year and bring them a plate of yummy turnip cakes, but the neighbors aren’t home and upon entering their home Goldy drops the turnip cakes all over the floor! What follows is a familiar set of events, but with a wonderful new cultural twist.

I love this picture book! Natasha Yim has created an unforgettable fairytale retelling that, while reminiscent of the original, is very much its own wonderful and captivating story. Yim introduces the Chinese New Year to young readers in a way that will excite and amuse them, while teaching them all about this amazing holiday. Goldy is such a cute, relatable little character! She’s not angelically good or bad on purpose, she’s simply and genuinely a kid. Little readers will love exploring the panda’s home with Goldy and watching her create one disaster after another! Along with teaching readers all about the Chinese New Year, this book offers a timeless and heartfelt message about love, friendship, and forgiveness.

The illustrations, by Grace Zong, are beyond gorgeous! Bright, detailed, fun, and full of such life and spirit, these illustrations are the absolute perfect companion to Yim’s story, and little readers will find new delightful things in them with each read.

I also love that the author has included, at the end of the book, more easily understood information about the Chinese New Year, the Chinese Zodiac, and even a recipe for turnip cakes!

Retellings of famous stories can be a tricky thing to pull off, but Natasha Yim has done it with ease! Imaginative, sweet, and fun, with fantastic illustrations, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a gem of a picture book!

What three words best describe your picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas?

Fun, Vibrant, Festive

Grab a copy of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and answer the following:

Favorite page? Scene where the three pandas return home and find turnip cakes all over their floor. This is the first glimpse of the three pandas, and they're adorable!

Favorite line? "Goldy jerked awake. Who could sleep with all that yelling going on?" - after the Chans commented on the half-eaten congee, rumpled and broken chairs and messed up beds and become increasingly agitated.

Favorite illustration? The scene where Goldy and Little Chan are making turnip cakes together - this is my favorite two-page spread. The colors are vibrant, the illustrations lively and appealing, and the beginning of Goldy's and Little Chans' bond is endearing.

What was the inspiration behind your unique take on the Goldilocks story? Why did you decide to retell such an iconic story?

I had always been troubled by the ending of this story and by Goldilock's careless disrespect for the three bears' home: She enters the three bears' house without permission,  destroys their stuff, then takes off never to be seen again. What kind of message was this giving kids? I wanted to rewrite this story with a more compassionate protagonist and a more satisfying ending. I also like humor so when a title popped into my head, "Goldilocks and the Three Chans" (Chan being a common Chinese last name), I found it inherently funny. This story has passed through the hands of 5 editors and 2 publishing houses and my writer's group and undergone countless revisions on its nine year journey to publication, so it really has gone through quite an evolution from the protagonist's name to the setting to transforming the Chans from humans into panda bears to the title.  

The Chinese New Year theme began to unfold as I wrote the story. I wanted this book to be about more than just Goldy coming from a different ethnic background, I wanted the book to introduce kids to some of the rich traditions and rituals of the Chinese culture. Chinese New Year, being my favorite Chinese festival of the year, was the obvious choice - all my nostalgic memories of visiting family and wishing them "Kung Hei Fat Choi", receiving red "lucky" envelopes with money in them, sitting down to fabulous meals of noodles, dumplings and my favorite fried turnip cakes wove themselves into the story. Chinese New Year is also a colorful, festive holiday and I felt this would lend itself to great illustrations.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Chinese New Year, can you tell us a bit about this celebration and about some of the traditions and foods associated with it that you’ve included in Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas?

Luck and wealth are two important themes in this festival. The festival heralds the start of a new year so Chinese New Year (also called the Spring Festival) is about rebirth and renewal and the hope that the new year will bring good luck and great riches. This luck/wealth theme permeates every aspect of the festival from the decorative hanging of red signs and banners (red also symbolizes good luck) on doors and walls with the words luck and prosperity on them, pre-New Year preparations of house-cleaning and cleaning out all the previous years' bad luck (but no sweeping is done on New Years' day lest one should sweep away good luck), the loud gongs, cymbals and firecrackers that accompany the New Year parade which is intended to scare away evil spirits who bring bad luck etc. There is also a lot of symbolism in the food that's eaten at Chinese New Year - oranges because their color and round shape represent gold coins and therefore great wealth, noodles because their length symbolizes long life, dumplings because their shape is similar to the ancient Chinese yen, again symbolizing wealth, fish because the Chinese word for fish is similar to the word for "abundance" and the hope for an abundance of wealth and luck, and turnip cakes which signifies "rising fortune".

What do you hope young readers take away or learn from Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas?

In addition to familiarizing kids with some of the rich cultural traditions and rituals of Chinese New Year, the message that we should make amends for our misbehaviors and sometimes unexpected rewards (in Goldy's case, an uexpected friendship) can come from it.

Fill in the blanks:
I am really awesome at making homemade turnip cakes - truly. I use the recipe at the end of the book every year for my Chinese New Year turnip cakes and they are unbelievably tasty! I may be demonstrating this on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog ( on my last blog tour stop on Jan. 27 - possibly. I have to see if I can pull off this "cooking" video.

I am really embarrassed to admit that I haven't been much of a reader of late. I love to read but what with working and volunteering at my kids' school, helping with homework, household and family responsibilities and running kids to their extracurricular activities after work, I barely have time to fit my writing in. Reading tends to come in spurts and I love it when I can pick up a book like "Looking for Alaska" that I'm eager to find time to get back to when I have to put it down.

The last great book I read was John Green's "Looking for Alaska".

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

Turnip  CUPcakes? It would be the turnip cake batter poured into a muffin pan and it would taste just like turnip cakes but baked. Hmmm...I'm going to have to try that.

Thank you so much, Natasha, for stopping by and giving us a chance to learn more about you and your book!

*Please note that I do not rate picture books, I merely review them


Sandie said...

Your book is perfect timing for the upcoming new year. My mother used to make her turnip bars but not every year. She makes jen dou every year faithfully. It is the biggest celebration in my life as a kid.
Great story using the animals. Love it! The illustrations are fabulous.

sammad ali said...