Little Laura and the Birthday Surprise
Little Laura and the Birthday Surprise is a storybook with an accompanying CD written by Laura Lee and illustrated by Debbie Huey and Sherwin Viray. Laura Lee is a second generation Chinese-American mother and a music teacher who teaches a Mandarin music class to young children. Asianmommy.com received a free copy of the book and CD for review.
The story begins with Little Laura looking for her friends. Her friend Zen Zen comes along, and they play hide-and-seek with Zoo-Zoo the dog and Meow-mi the cat. Then, they celebrate Meow-mi's birthday and sing "Happy Birthday" to her in Chinese. The story ends with the "Goodbye" song.
The book is written mostly in English, with a couple of Chinese sentences per page, as well as a handful of Chinese songs included throughout the book. You'll learn how to say simple sentences in Mandarin, such as "Where are my friends?" and "Hello" and "How are you?" You'll also learn how to count to 10 in Chinese.
At the end of the book is a very useful list of vocabulary words in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Pinyin. The audio CD allows you to read and sing along with the book, and is especially helpful in providing the correct pronunciation of the words for new students learning Mandarin for the first time.
What I liked: I appreciated the fact that the story was written in English with the Chinese words provided in the Pinyin form. This makes it much easier to read for English speakers. It's very helpful to have the Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters available for reference at the end of the book, with a notation that Traditional characters are used in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, while Simplified characters are used in Mainland China and Singapore.
The illustrations were adorable! The audio CD is very useful in helping you to learn the pronunciation of the words in Mandarin, and the music and the singing were nice, too. The kids were very excited to read and listen to the story and to sing the songs that were already familiar to them.
What could be improved: More books from this series would be great!