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Title: 小故事大道理: 民間故事
Translated title: The Little Stories – Folk Tales
Language: Chinese
Author: 吉林美術出版社
Year: 2005

This neat little book from Windmill is the first book I read in Chinese. I asked my teacher back in Xinzhu and she said it was possibly for grade four or five, which made it very difficult for me in the beginning, although the later stories were quite easy. To give you an idea of what it means to read this book, I will provide a brief outline of my progress.

In all there are over 30 tales in this volume, totalling around 7000 Chinese characters (the book is richly illustrated as well). Looking up all the characters I didn’t know, I amassed a total of 777 new words, which is quite a lot. For the first five stories I needed to look up 291 characters, but for the last five, I only needed to check 107. It didn’t feel like progress when I was in the middle of it, but that’s of course what it was.

What about the stories, then? Some of them are, to be honest, quite menial and fail to either entertain or educate, but most of them are wonderful. It is truly fascinating to read about Chinese legends like this, even though the language sometimes makes it difficult. Each story is concluded by a moral lesson, which in some cases is just stupid (most of the time there is an obvious moral in the story, but sometimes the author has just added one).

I have another three books in this series, but rather than continuing with these now, I need to focus on my language courses. There will be plenty of time in the future to read more legends, which is something I look forward to. This was a demanding first book to read in Chinese, but it was also truly rewarding!

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