Tag Archives: Bilingual stories

Be Careful, Xiao Xin! – Alice Pung/Sher Rill Ng

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Harper Collins

September 2022

  • ISBN: 9781922033932
  • ISBN 10: 1922033936
  • Imprint: Working Title Press AU
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

There will be many who will welcome this beautiful book as a fitting addition to their multi-lingual collection, and, in particular, if Mandarin is a taught language in the school. However, it will be equally well-received by those who are looking to empower their youngsters with self-confidence and resolve.

It is all too easy as adults to project our fears and worries onto our children, not because we want frighten them but simply because of our natural urge to protect them. At times though, this can become like a suffocating blanket we wrap around kiddos, creating anxiety and insecurity. As educators, all of us will have experienced, no doubt countless times, the ‘helicopter’ parent who diminishes and thwarts their child at every turn.

Xiao Xin sees himself as a fearless Red Warrior. His family see him as a little boy incapable of taking care of himself or keeping himself safe. The subtleties in the illustrations as the adults’ worry monsters appear around the edges, the use of colour to emotively convey the feelings of the fretting adults and the bravado of the little boy and (once unpacked) the meaning of Xiao Xin’s and Fan Xin’s names combine to give this narrative a powerful depth which will provide fodder for much rich discussion. Some of this will be simply focused on the protective strategies of parents/adults and the self-belief that children may have but there is certainly a wonderful opportunity to compare the cultural norms and expectations around the freedoms of children to learn, take risks and become independent.

Alice Pung’s text is spare but evocative and Sher Rill Ng’s illustrations take this to a breathtaking level, which will both engage and move readers and the cleverness of that cover art – just wow!

Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards.