Thursday, May 06, 2010

Review Thursday:

Popular Chinese Idioms
Illustrated by: Jeffrey Seow
Translated by: Yang Liping
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Asiapac Books Singapore 2006
ISBN : 981-229-447-3
Price: Singapore S$8.50 and Malaysia RM18.50

I love comics, and I’m fascinated by Chinese history, so when I first came across Asiapac Books, I went nuts and bought half a dozen at once.

These little books tell classic Chinese stories, legends, and histories, and retell them in simple comic strips. It’s fun, it’s memorable, and insidiously educational.

I bought this Popular Chinese Idioms because I am fascinated by proverbs, clich├ęs, axioms and language in general. Hey, that’s why I write the Logomania column and the book, right?

Popular Chinese Idioms covers roughly 100 frequently used Chinese idioms. For each it offers: the expression in Chinese characters with handy Pin Yin underneath so we non-Chinese character readers can attempt the pronunciation; an English translation so we know what we’re mispronouncing; a cartoon telling the tale behind the idiom; and a hint as to what sort of situation you’d want to show off your newly learned expression.

However, I have one criticism: the editing needs to be beefed up. About 95% of the book is excellent but there are one or two glaring problems. For example, the cartoon for “Become known to every household” seems to have no connection to the expression. I’ve read it three times and I’m still baffled as to the meaning and usage.

Overall though I love it, and I want the companion to this: Chinese Proverbs.

It’s available in various Malaysian bookshops like MPH, Kinokunya, and Times and is also sold online by Asiapac.

I've been reading so many great books recently, that I've decided to start reviewing them on Thursdays. Reviews are personal; fell free to jump in with comments that disagree. If you want your book reviewed, email me at katztales AT, OK?

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