I grew up in an English-speaking family. This means that when it came to Mandarin, the only exposure I got was the mandatory Chinese lessons we had in school. Till today, I remember dreading Chinese lessons because I had a really long-winded Chinese teacher who would spend 80% of class time telling us about her children, her pet goldfish, etc, and then leave 5 minutes or less to rush through the syllabus. You can imagine how much I hated Chinese back then. To prepare for the O levels, my mum signed me up for one-on-one tuition with this really fierce ex-Principal Chinese teacher who would drill me every other day on the language. I remember lugging my heavy school bag to her house for tuition and falling asleep from exhaustion when she made me write some cheem Chinese phrase over and over again. Also, I came from a all-girls convent and speaking Mandarin was very uncool. Huayu was not very cool then.

I have to add that thanks to all that intensive tuition, my Mandarin is not that bad. I can speak and can type out simple text messages in Mandarin. However, anything more complicated will cause my brain to sprain. My in-laws are Mandarin-speaking folks so I have a lot of practise with them. They are the only ones who address me by my Chinese name (no one else does!) and whenever I am at their place, I try and read the giant headlines on Lianhe Wanbao which is usually about some mistress getting beaten up by the wife with interviews with the neighbours, the 3rd aunty’s son, etc.

As with most modern parents these days, we want our child to grow up bilingual. Specifically, we want Elliott to be able to speak English and his mother tongue, Mandarin, fluently. My MIL cares for him 3 times a week and she is really good with reading and speaking to him. These days, he can recite simple children’s rhymes, count from 1-10 and point out household objects, all in Mandarin. I claim ZERO credit. Full credit goes to my in-laws.

I stumbled upon Flip for Joy when I was searching online for “Chinese books for toddlers”. Flip for Joy is a “Singapore-based children’s bookstore, dedicated to sourcing the best Chinese books around the world.” Back then, I ordered the Chinese version of “Where is the green sheep?” titled <绿绵羊在哪里?> because back then, it was one of Elliott’s favourite books. I also got him a book titled <我会穿衣服> as it will allow him to practise buttoning, zipping and lacing various items in the book.

Recently, much to my delight, Elliott was gifted with a few more books from Flip for Joy. Meiru, the 老板娘 of Flip for Joy, contacted me and offered to choose a few Chinese books for Elliott based on his likes. I told her that he’s currently into anything vehicle-related, i.e. cars, trains, trucks, etc. I also shared that he’s into “flap” books.

I was very thrilled when the large package arrived. So many lovely books to read! They were mostly vehicle-themed and one particular one titled <不行,危险!> caught my eye. I laughingly told the husband that my MIL will lurrrrrve this book because she’s always telling Elliott to be careful to not do this, and that. This is a synopsis of the book, taken from Flip for Joy’s page:

A fascinating and fun-filled book with wheels that will teach our little ones about road safety. Children will be able to relate their own experiences on the go to that of the various adorable animals’ and learn how to behave appropriately when travelling in the car. Lift the flaps to see how the animals can enjoy a car ride in a safe manner. The book made of child-friendly material and rounded edges is gentle on the children’s hands. A great book to bring on the go!

Elliott is very taken with the book because…..it has wheels! And flaps that he can lift! He has also recently taken to saying “危险!” whenever I read the book. He probably doesn’t quite understand what the phrase means but whenever I read it, I shake my head and furrow my brows so I think he gets the idea that it is a “no no”.

He is also at the age where every button is a MUST PRESS. Another favourite from the collection is a 3-book series called <这是谁的声音?交通工具系列> because each book comes in the shape of the vehicle (all his favourites – boat! plane! train!) but more importantly, each book has a little button where he can press to hear the sound the vehicle makes.

Despite my less-than-stellar Chinese standards, I can generally read most of the words in these books. I have to admit that some words stump me and I gloss over quickly to the next word. Hur hur. I usually would leave the reading of these books to the husband who will usually read them with gusto and sound effects. It is very cute to hear him reading Chinese books to our little man. The books we have contain simple Chinese words and some even come with hanyu pinyin.  BIG PHEW.

I really like these books because they are hardy and have survived the rough manhandling by my toddler who has thrown them across the room, from a height and even used them as toys (the ones that come with wheels turn into a toy truck for him). Importantly, these books come with rounded edges which make these books safe for little ones. They are also of good quality and as far as I can see, I have not spotted any glaring errors in the books that we have received.

I love that Elliott’s little library has a good mix of English and Chinese books. I am not sure how much of our reading sessions will rub off on him but hopefully, in time to come, he does not fear the Chinese language and instead, develop an appreciation for the language and stories. I look forward to the day when he can read the Chinese language books along with me.

GIVEAWAY

To spread the love, Flip for Joy is kindly giving away two S$20 e-gift cards to readers of Bubsicles. These e-gift cards can be used for any book purchase on the Flip for Joy website. It is a one-time usage e-gift card and will be valid for 6 months.

To qualify:

  1. Like our Bubsicles Facebook review post here.
  2. Share the review post on your Facebook timeline.
  3. Like Flip for Joy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/flipforjoy
  4. Leave a comment on our Facebook review post telling us your favourite title from Flip for Joy and why.

That’s it! We will then choose 2 of the best answers to win the e-gift cards.

This giveaway ends on 12 December, 11:59pm and is open only to Singapore residents. Winners will be contacted via their Facebook account through private message and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be selected. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Wait. There’s more.

Christmas is round the corner and we all know how stressful Christmas shopping. Share the joy of reading this Christmas and receive a $5 e-gift card (valid for 6 months) from Flip for Joy for every $50 spent in the month of December.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” ~ Garrison Keillor

Disclaimer: I was given a selected range of Chinese books from Flip for Joy for the purpose of a review. All opinions are mine.

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