Friday 16 June 2023

Ten Blocks to the Big Wok

Ten Blocks to the Big Wok (a Mandarin counting book) written and illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu. (University of Queensland Press). ) PB RRP $24.99. 32 pp    ISBN9780702266072

Reviewed by Debra Williams

This picture book is printed in English but is a counting book, (up to ten), in the Mandarin language. Gorgeously illustrated, little Mia is taken by her uncle Eddie to their favourite restaurant, the Big Wok, to buy delicious dim sum. Her Grandma tells Mia and Uncle Eddie to make sure they bring back some soup dumplings.

Along each block on their Chinatown walk, they count things they see; animals, people, decorations etc. from one to ten, written in English on the page, with a fan icon in one corner that contains the Mandarin numeral and pronunciation. Also along the way, there is a kitten in each picture to find. When their order arrives, Mia counts all the food items on the table. Mia and Uncle Eddie take a different route home so Mia can get ice-cream.

The author has included two pages at the back as an author’s note, explaining the Chinese culture and food items the two have seen on their walk to the Big Wok. She has also included an illustrated page recapping the Mandarin numbers from 1-10.

New York, USA, author and illustrator, Ying-Hwa Hu has been illustrating books featuring children of many cultures for three decades. Along with her husband, Cornelius Van Wright, she created the art for numerous classic picture books, including Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman and Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn. This is her debut book as a solo author and illustrator. You can learn more about her at, where there are fun Chinese language activities.

This book is suitable for children from 2-5 years of age who are learning to count .

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