Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mandy and Pandy Book Series by Chris Lin - Review and Book Giveaway

The Chinese New Year began on February 14th, 2010, ushering in the Year of the Tiger. The celebrations are underway, and last week I noticed several blogs that mentioned Chinese New Year themed crafts and books in their posts. Last year my family attended a Chinese New Year celebration, but we missed this year's local events due to illness. My kids were looking forward to watching the lion dance again so they were disappointed we could not attend the festivities.

To compensate for missing the event, we immersed ourselves in the Chinese language by reading several books from the Mandy and Pandy book series by Chris Lin. He created the series after he adopted his daughter, Mandy, from China and could not find fun, age appropriate books to teach her Chinese. The books teach young children (and their parents) simplified Mandarin Chinese by displaying English phrases along with the corresponding Chinese characters and also use pinyin phonetics to help with pronunciation. The small sized board books retail at $12.95 each and feature cute and colorful illustrations by Ingrid Villalta.

Each book includes an accompanying CD that helps readers learn through an auditory medium as they listen to the book read aloud. The book is read three times on the corresponding CD. First, Chris Lin, the author, reads the phrases in English followed by Jiao Jing, Mandy's Chinese teacher from China, who pronounces the characters in Chinese. Secondly, Jiao Jing says the characters in a teacher's tone. Finally, Jiao Jing reads the book in Chinese using a conversational tone.

The first book in the series is Mandy and Pandy Say, "Ni Hao Ma?" This book introduces the main characters -- a little girl named Mandy and her panda friend, Pandy. They converse using short, basic phrases like, "Hi Mandy, how are you?" (màn dí, nǐ hǎo ma?) The book also includes terms like Mommy, Daddy, a few different foods, and sleep and good night. The characters talk about outdoor activities like visiting the park, swimming and playing in the snow. Quiet music plays in the background behind the narration.

The second book, Mandy and Pandy Play "Let's Count", helps children learn the numbers one through ten in Chinese. Mandy and Pandy use the numbers in short sentences to describe things they see while on a walk. For instance, the page discussing number nine reads, "Nine clouds...in the sky" (jiǔ duǒ bái yún...zài kōng zhōng, zài kōng zhōng.) A few pages in the back give a complete overview of all the numbers. My kids really like singing the song, "One little, two little...friends" on the last pages of the book. In the audio recording, the narrators use rhythm sticks to help with cadence and pronunciation. Chris Lin also provides a very brief description of the four tone marks used for the different Chinese sounds in this CD.

Mandy and Pandy Visit China (book 3) is formatted a little differently than the first two. In this book, Mandy and Pandy speak to each other using complete sentences and discuss their flight and visit to China. Together they see the capital of China, Beijing, the walk along the Great Wall of China, view cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xi'an and a mountain called Changbai. Four different people narrate the book, two men provide the voice for Pandy (Chris Lin and Jerry Xu) and two women provide the voice for Mandy (Michelle Shulman and Jiao Jing).

Another book in the series is Mandy and Pandy Play Sports (Book 4). Corresponding with this year's Chinese New Year, two new titles were just released, Mandy and Pandy Play "What Colors Do You See?" (Book 5) and Mandy and Pandy Visit the Zoo (Book 6).

China is an emerging country and there is an increased demand for Chinese education in places around the world. The Mandy and Pandy books provide a good basic introduction to the Chinese culture and their language for English speaking children. The adorable illustrations of Mandy and Pandy help engage young children and compliment the text. I especially like that the books don't just teach single words but put the words into context by using sentences and short phrases. My preschool-aged daughter liked the counting book best of all and really enjoyed singing along with the number song and learning the numbers. As soon as I put the CD from the first book into our player, my toddler son came running, shouting "Kai-Lan?" His only exposure to Chinese prior to this book series was from the popular Nick, Jr. show, and I found it impressive that he knew that the language being spoken was the same as that heard on the show.

Early exposure is important in raising bilingual children, and TV shows like Kai-Lan and books such as the Mandy and Pandy series provide interactive and entertaining ways for young children to learn the Chinese language. While we enjoy the Kai-Lan shows, the Pandy and Mandy book series goes much farther in providing a solid introduction to the Chinese language because they provide English text along with the corresponding Chinese characters and spell out the sounds using pinyin. Most importantly, the audio CDs provide the correct pronunciations and tonal inflections and children are given time to repeat the sentences and phrases. I found the Mandy and Pandy website somewhat lacking. It would be helpful for me, as a parent, if the site included a brief introduction to the Chinese language, discussed the Chinese tones in more detail, and included printables and other activities to use along with the books. Hopefully, as the books gain popularity, the site will become more interactive. Besides in home use, the Mandy and Pandy books would work perfectly in teaching basic Chinese to preschoolers and early elementary students and for use in daycare settings.

Related Links:

Mandy and Pandy Website
Panda Bear Shapes Craft Printable at Tired, Need Sleep
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan - Nick. Jr.

Celebrate sports and the Chinese New Year by entering for a chance to win a copy of book 4, Mandy and Pandy Play Sports. I have one copy of the children's book to give away to a Brimful Curiosities reader.

To enter, leave a comment with a word or phrase you would like to learn how to say in Chinese.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US
• Contest ends on Monday, March 8th, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

Book Source: Review copies provided by publisher and KidStuff PR. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


phxbne said...

Where is the bathroom?
We are going to China this summer!
michelejdaley at gmail dot com

Bridget R. Wilson said...

What a great series! I'd like to know how to say poet in Chinese.


Nadi said...

I'd like to know how to say Peace in Chinese.

treflea4 at gmail dot com

Sam Song - Auhtor of 5 wonderful books said...

"Where is the bathroom?"
(xǐ shǒu jiān zài nà ér ?)
(There are several ways to say it.)


和平 (hépíng)

(Just say "pizza" slowly)

Learning Mandarin can be fun and joyful.

Japanese adopted a lot of Chinese characters, so, some Japanese know the advantages of the Chinese language. A learned Japanese states that Chinese language is very systematic and logic. He looks at Mandarin from a different angle.

Some people say the sound of Mandarin is poetic.

I am a published author of 5 wonderful books on http://www.amazon.com/Sam-Song/e/B002BX3790/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0. I'd say the writing of Chinese characters could be beautiful.


Actually, learning Mandarin can be entertaining, fun, and joyful!


Terra Heck said...

I would like to learn thank you and you're welcome. Thanks.

Tabathia B said...

twitter follower & tweeted http://twitter.com/ChelleB36/status/9877494093

ossmcalc said...

I would like to learn how to say:

Hello, it is nice to meet you.

Where is a Western bathroom?

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/9911116286

ossmcalc said...

I subscribe via email.

Thank you,


Sam Song - Auhtor of 5 wonderful books said...

Hi Tabathia, Terra, and Christine,

book 书 shū
hello 哈啰 hā luō
I love you. 我爱你 wo3 ài ni3
thank you 谢谢你 xiè xiè ni3
you're welcome. 不客气 bú kè qì
it is nice to meet you 很高兴认识你 hěn gāo xìng rèn shi ni3
Hello, it is nice to meet you 哈啰 很高兴认识你 hā luō hěn gāo xìng rèn shi ni3
Where is a Western bathroom 西式洗手间在那儿? xī shì xǐ shǒu jiān zài na3 ér

How are you today? 今天好吗? jīn tiān hao3 ma


AEKZ2 said...

I'd like to learn to say: You're a wonderful friend.


Jessica said...

I would like to learn to say - How are you today?


Chinese For Munchkins said...

I'd like to say, 'can i have a drink please?'
Heidi S

Cassie M said...

I would like to say sister in Chinese!

Uniquely Normal Mom said...

I would like to learn to say, I'm thankful for your true friendship.

uniquelynormalmom at gmail dot com

Uniquely Normal Mom said...

I am following you! We really hope to teach our little one Chinese, but first mommy and Daddy need to get a little more serious about their studies! :)
uniquelynormalmom at gmail dot com

tina reynolds said...

I would like to say thanks and hello, my name. eaglesforjack@gmail.com

Sam Song - Auhtor of 5 wonderful books said...

Hi everybody,

(There are often several ways to express one meaning, depending on the real situation, such as: talking to a president or a baby, at a 5-star hotel or a stand, etc...)

You're a wonderful friend.
ni3 shi4 zui4 hao3 de peng2 you3

I would like this recipe!
wo3 xi3 huan1 zhe4 ge4 shi2 pu3

Can I have a drink please?
wo3 yao4 he1 yin3 liao4)

God Bless! 上帝保佑你
shang4 di4 bao3 you4 ni3

Godspeed! 祝幸运
zhu4 xing4 yun4

elder sister 姊姊 zi3 zi3
younger sister 妹妹 mei4 mei4

I'm thankful for your true friendship.
wo3 xie4 xie4 ni3 de zhen1 you3 yi4

mommy 妈妈 ma1 ma1
Daddy 爸爸 ba4 ba4

Happy Birthday 生日快乐
sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4

Excuse me. 对不起 dui4 bu4 qi3


Unknown said...

Thanks for the review of the mandy and pandy books in this site http://mandyandpandy.com/. I think they have a sale where you can buy the books at a discount just this month on their site at http://www.mandyandpandy.com/store/

Best4Future Blog: Bringing Up Baby Bilingual! said...

My blog (http://www.best4future.com/blog) is an exploration of raising children with more than one language and a record of my efforts to teach Chinese to my daughter DD (nickname). I want to meet people who are interested in bilingual learning, bilingual parenting and bilingual teaching.