Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Learning: Star Anise, Superstar! (Book review & giveaway)

Some time ago, author Linn Shekinah kindly sent us a copy of her new book, "Asian Spice Kids: Star Anise, Superstar". The storyline for the book is simple: Star Anise longs to be a superstar, and tries her hardest to be one. She plays the most instruments, she plays the loudest, but in the end gets rejected by those around her. However, there is a twist in the story, and she ends up saving her friends, and learns that a star is one that shares and gives. 

The boys enjoyed hearing the story, and I thought that the book's lesson was relevant to the kids, as they would face the issues of popularity and acceptance in the future. There are two bilingual editions of the book, in either English-Chinese or English-Malay. In our edition, there is a glossary at the back which includes various Chinese terms, their Hanyu pinyin as well as their meanings in both languages, which I found really helpful! Another lovely feature of the book was the insert, which had a game as well as other activities which the older kids could try their hand at:

Since the book introduced various spices, I thought it would be fun for the kids to try their hand at various spice-related activities. So we tried:

:: Examining and smelling the spices:

The kids really were enthusiastic about smelling them, and kept sniffing!

:: Painting with spices:

We mixed water with cinnamon powder and five-spice powder, and the kids had a go with their paintbrushes. They loved this activity and spent more time sniffing their papers as they did their paintings. 

:: Stamping with star anise: Ok, this one didn't turn out like I expected, as they tried stamping but the uneveness of the star anise made it hard to do printing with. So they did a couple of prints and started playing with the paints after.

:: Cooking with spices: I felt the best way to teach the kids how spices could work together to produce something flavorful was to cook something. So we cooked pho, and we cooked Taiwanese beef noodle (I've included the links to the recipes we used, but I modified them along the way), since both required most of the spices mentioned in the book, as well as others! Junior J had a good time helping me to stuff garlic, fennel, cloves, star anise and other spices into empty tea bags which we put into the pot to simmer. The soups turned out really yummy!

If you would like a copy of "Star Anise, Superstar" just pop over to Flip for Joy, which also stocks many great Chinese reads (you can read our review of some of the books they stock here). Oh, and we are also giving away a copy of the book to one blog reader! Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter in the giveaway (please remember to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you win!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway PS: You can follow our book recommendations over here at our Facebook page.

PPS: We received a copy of "Star Anise, Superstar"
for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions (and spices) are our own. 


  1. i am chinese but didnt learn chinese in school :( so i only read english books growing up and my favourite was anne of green gables

  2. Thanks for hosting!
    Currently, I love to read 我从哪里来 to my little one!

  3. I love the idea of painting with the spice powder!

  4. 卡密尔当老师. this is our current favourite. it is actually translated from a very popular French series about this giraffe going different whimsical and fantastical adventures. Very creative!

  5. I have not started reading any chinese books to my children yet. Maybe this will be a good start! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Our current favourite is 你醒了吗?

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway! I hope to win this book for my little boy and introduce him to spices :)

  7. Our current favorite is the 淘樹 series

  8. Have not read any chinese books.

    Cynthia Lau

  9. We love the 嗨宝贝 -- 哦妈妈 series!



  10. My gal enjoys her lift the flap book. 野生动物,立体动态翻翻转转绘本

  11. We love the 淘树 series. Very adorable boy and his baby sister.
    Carol Lim,

  12. Sophie enjoys reading Tao Shu and Shapes series of books.

  13. My boy and myself loves Julia Donaldson's book. The last book we read was Tabby McTat.

  14. Hi,

    Thanks for awesome reviews...Panchtantra...Hindi series of stories telling about How impotant it is to be Kind & do good deeds..Every story ends with some message to a kid in very effective way..

    Ashmika jain

  15. We don't read that many Chinese books so no particular favourite unfortunately.

  16. Three little pigs in mandarin

  17. 先左脚,后右脚

  18. I enjoy You Jin's novels and short stories a lot :)



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