Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf + A Bonus Literary Lunch!

Happy New Year!

How appropriate that our first "crooked bookshelf pick" of the new calendar year—is a marvelous story by Andrea Wang, written for the Chinese New Year. We love this book so much, we asked Nina from Mamabelly's Lunches with Love for a bonus Literary Lunch to celebrate its publication, and ring in The Year of The Rooster. (See Nina's brilliant bento creation below!)

The Nian Monster
by Andrea Wang
illustrated by Alina Chau

This week's pick is from cottager Anika Denise.

What it's all about...
The legendary Nian monster has returned at Chinese New Year, intent on devouring Shanghai, starting with Xingling! The old tricks to keep him away don’t work on Nian anymore, but Xingling is clever. Will her quick thinking be enough to save the city from the Nian Monster?

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf…
As a child growing up in New York, I was captivated by celebrations of the Chinese New Year. This is a book "little me" would have adored. ("Grownup me" is equally smitten.) It has everything I love: a mysterious monster, a feisty female protagonist, food you want to pluck from the pages and taste, and magical illustrations.

Favorite line(s)...
"Every monster has a weakness. Nian had three—loud sounds, fire, and the color red."

Most swoon-worthy illustrations...
It's hard to choose. All of Alina Chau's watercolor illustrations for The Nian Monster are lovely. But here are three particularly stand-out pages and spreads.

From The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang; Image (c) 2016 Alina Chau

From The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang; Image (c) 2016 Alina Chau

From The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang; Image (c) 2016 Alina Chau

Why kids will love it…

Because monsters! And paper lanterns! And long life noodles! And... and...

Why grown-ups will love it…
Everything I said above, plus it's a wonderful way to teach children more about the customs and traditions of the Chinese New Year.


The Nian Monster Literary Lunch

What would you do if a beast with horns, scales and wide, wicked jaws showed up in the midst of your family preparing a new year celebration? That is exactly the problem Xingling faces when the Nian Monster suddenly appears outside her kitchen. Will Xingling be able to tame the monster by feeding it traditional food? Find out in Andrea Wang's new book THE NIAN MONSTER!

Nina from packed a lunch to satisfy any mythical beast:
  • a helping of long-life noodles with fish for good fortune
  • a mini Xingling made of cheese and spinach
  • a sweet peanut butter "rice cake" made from bread and peanut butter
  • and sweet apples with firework sprinkles

* For more of Nina's Literary Lunch creations, visit:
--instagram: @Mamabelly
--twitter: @LunchesWithLove

* View The Nian Monster book trailer here.
* Click here, for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Nian Monster art.
* Want to use The Nian Monster in your classroom? Download the Teacher's Guide here.
* For more about Andrea Wang, visit:
* To explore more of Alina Chau's work, go to:


  1. Thank you for this wonderful post (and lunch!), Anika and Nina!

  2. Hooray for Nian & the tasty literary lunch :)