The Epic Adventures of Princess Moonface
The Epic Adventures of Princess Moonface by Wendy Yang Bailey and Brandon Bailey is a novel which aims to teach Chinese Mandarin to teens. Asianmommy received a free copy of the multimedia kit by Epic Adventures Languages for review. Included are a bilingual novel, a study guide, 5 audio CDs, and a writing practice book.
The story follows Mei, a fourteen-year-old girl, who lives in Flushing, Queens with her Auntie and her little brother. Mei works for Boss at the Great Wall Number 1 Best Noodle Shop, making deliveries of Chinese take-out with her scooter. She goes to high school with her friends, Debra and Tanya. There's a new kid at school named Sam, who piques her interest. One night, some men on motorcycles harrass Mei while she's making deliveries. She loses control of her scooter and falls. A white dog comes to her rescue. Soon, Mei finds out that she's not who she thought she was...she's Princess Moonface.
While I found the storyline to be interesting and intruiging, I found that the level of difficulty of the Chinese in the novel was too high for a beginning student. The novel is more suitable for someone who has been studying Chinese for a couple of years.
I liked the use of the Synchronous Translation Method, which shows English on the first line, simplified Chinese characters on the second line, pinyin on the third line, and translation of the individual Chinese characters into English on the fourth line.
The workbook is great for a beginning student. It offers a guide to pinyin, an explanation of the tones, examples of the parts of speech, as well as basic stroke types, measure words, numbers, and vocabulary words. I also enjoyed the Culture Notes about Mahjong, Chinese proverbs, the Chinese Zodiac, Martial arts, Buddhism, the Great Wall of China, and more.
What I liked: Mei's story is engaging and well told. I like how the authors incorporate Chinese culture into the storytelling. It can be a little bit confusing at first, but I really like the fourth line of text in the Synchronous Translation Method, which offers the translation of the individual Chinese characters into English. This results in broken English, but it helps to break down the sentences into digestable pieces. I also liked the illustrations by Qianqian Liu--wish there were more of them.
What could be improved: Due to the Synchronous Translation Method, when opening the pages of the book, the reader is overwhelmed by a heavy dose of text. More spacing between the lines and perhaps color-coding of the English, Chinese characters, and pinyin text would help.