Ting Ting, the Girl Who Saved China
Title: Ting Ting, the Girl Who Saved China
Author: Ryan O’Connor
Illustrator: Xiang Minghui
Genre: Illustrated Children’s Book
Reviewed by: Barbara Miller
Ting Ting, the Girl Who Saved China by author Ryan O’Connor is a lovely tale about a young girl, Li Li, being told a fable about the history of the Chinese New Year by her parents and grandparents.
For many years the Chinese countryside was plagued by a monster called Nian, who would suddenly appear at the start of the Chinese New Year and attack villages. Even some people would offer up sacrifices to the monster hoping it would show mercy and not attack their village. Nothing seemed to stop this frightening event, which occurred year-after-year. Then, this young girl, Ting Ting, thought of a methodology to defeat Nian. She dressed herself in bright red clothes, covered her house with red colors, and took all kinds of fireworks and firecrackers out. At exactly midnight, the start of the New Year, she went outside and lit all of the fireworks. With the sparkling lights and loud bangs, coupled with Ting Ting’s aggressively charging towards the monster, she managed to scare off Nian who retreated to where it came from – nobody really knows where it came from, maybe the mountains, maybe the sea. Anyway, Li Li was told Ting Ting was a relative, which impressed her knowing she has a famous family lineage.
The story has an entertaining way of progressing at a pace which Li Li wants to hear more, and her grandfather backtracks with setting the foundation of the story. Readers sense the anxiousness of Li Li wanting to get into the story but needs to go at the pace of her grandfather. I found this element to be very credible, humorous, and fun. The interleaving of artistically drawn illustrations on each page of the text makes for a captivating combination of words and images, ideal for storytelling to youngsters. Having the history of Chinese New Year, along with their family customs of eating dumplings (with one lucky dumpling having a gold coin), brings out and shows the love all families have for each other, where ever in the world they may be. These elements and more makes Ting Ting, the Girl Who Saved China universally appealing.
Author Ryan O’Connor’s knowledge of the Chinese culture is brought to the awareness of children everywhere in this story. Another underlying theme is little girls are very powerful people; they can achieve anything they wish to accomplish. This emboldens little girls which is a wonderful sub-theme for children at their young, impressionable ages.
And maybe monsters are not as scary as people believe them to be, once you take a firm stance, and chase out any fear from your mind.