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A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
A Big Mooncake for Little Star Book Poster Image
Girl sneaks nibbles, mooncake wanes in cozy bedtime charmer.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Asian Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Traditional mooncakes with ingredients pictured. Shapes of waning moon. The story itself is an example of how to create a fictional myth. Visual reference to classic picture book Blueberries for Sal.

Positive Messages

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a fun holiday, complete with tasty cakes and baking projects. Sometimes kids can't resist taking a tiny nibble. Parents love and understand the impish impulses of their little ones. Baking together is fun. The waxing and waning of the moon is a friendly process. We can tell stories and make up myths to explain natural phenomena.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Little Star and Mama have a strong, warm, loving relationship, as evidenced in both story and art. Together they celebrate Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Little Star's adventurous and curious. She's pictured reading.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Big Mooncake for Little Star is by celebrated author-illustrator Grace Lin, whose books include a Newbery Honor Book (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) and a National Book Award Finalist (When the Sea Turned to Silver). Lin's an active champion of increasing representation in kids' books, and has herself created many books with Asian characters, including middle grade novels, beginning-to-read series (Ling & Ting), and picture books. This sly, starry story, is her own mythical take on why the moon waxes and wanes. It features mooncakes, traditionally eaten at the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in numerous Asian countries. Warm and cozy, it's the perfect bedtime read.

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What's the story?

In A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR, Little Star's mama bakes a Big Mooncake, and lays it "onto the night sky to cool." Though Little Star promises not to touch it, she wakes up and takes a nibble. Night after night, Little Star returns for a tiny taste, eating away at it in the shape of a waning moon, until it's whittled down to a slim crescent. One night, Mama discovers that the Mooncake's gone, "just a trail of twinkling crumbs." Little Star fesses up and pulls Mama back to the kitchen so the two can bake another Big Mooncake.

Is it any good?

Just as Little Star can't resist nibbling her mooncake, readers won't be able to resist this deliciously warm bedtime story with luminous art. The story in A Big Mooncake for Little Star is pitched perfectly for young readers, sprinkled with sounds -- "pat pat pat" as she pads off -- and friendly questions, as if a parent has cozied up with his or her own child, to tell the story. "What do you think Little Star remembered? The Big Mooncake, of course! Would Mama notice if she took another nibble?"

And the art! The black backgrounds are as mesmerizing as a Starry Night sky, brightened by the big yellow moon and the fat stars that dot Little Star's and Mama's PJs. The faces are real and so expressive, "her grin reflecting her mama’s smile." When Little Star first cooks up her plan, her eyes glint with mischief, and when she pads off to nibble her mooncake, the stuffed bunny she’s dropped in the tumble of sheets stares after her forlornly. The spread where she wears successive moons down to a sliver makes the moon/mooncake analogy clear. And astute readers will catch a loving reference to the classic Blueberries for Sal in the endpapers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the mooncakes in A Big Mooncake for Little Star. Have you ever eaten one? Can you tell what the ingredients are from the picture of Little Star and Mama baking?

  • Did you know about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival? What countries celebrate it? Does your family celebrate it? Do you know other families that do?

  • Does the picture of Little Star standing on a chair to help her mama bake remind you of a picture from any other book you might know? Do the little statues of a mother bear and her Little Bear on the shelf give you a clue?

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For kids who love picture books and Asian stories

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