Age: 6.5 & 9.5
Grade Level: 4+ (listening), lower elementary (reading)
This semester, I’ve introduced a new routine. The children can listen to an audiobook while they fold their laundry during work hours. I offered Astroboy Mr. Men and Little Miss 奇先生妙小姐 one day and finally, there is something that is at Astroboy‘s comprehension level and actually engaging.
Astroboy has been listening to the series for the last month. Mr. Men and Little Miss is just like Thomas the Train. After a few repeats, the kids can tell me exactly what each Mr. Men and Little Miss’ story is about, and knows to request a specific one that they find especially funny. Then, when they’re not listening, they will discuss the stories and laugh their heads off. Even better, because Fleur and Mandarin Mama‘s kids are also listening to the series, sometimes they would discuss the stories on the playground.
There are various versions of Mr. Men and Little Miss floating around. The audiobook version we found was from Ximalaya. You can find it here. There are 37 tracks and the audio production value is high. There is music background and multiple voices for the different characters.
Though I had organized a group book order for the books, I did not buy them myself. After trying it out at a local library, it did not seem useful for reading. Since the characters are so cute, one would think it’s for preschooler and very early elementary. But the books are small, maybe 5 inch squared. The font is tiny but the stories very long. The translation seemed very stilted and sometimes not accurate. The writing seems fairly advanced for such a small, short book. Plus, they had quite a few characters with the wrong zhuyin, what’s up with that?
All these reasons meant that, to me, my kids could not read it as a beginning reader book, around Bridging Level 0 or 1.
However, after listening to the audiobook, my verdict is: these sets of books are perfect for listening.
Since children’s listening comprehension are 2 years ahead of reading, given the set’s content level, it’s perfect for the preschooler to listen to. The books have a lot of good idioms 成語 and all the names of the little men and little miss are teaching them fairly advanced adjectives. Astroboy has asked me what 驕傲 or 滑稽 means. This advance vocabulary level is better heard first than read.
So, if you can find all of the audio somehow, be it online or borrowing from friends, just listen to them. In audio format, all the problems with the print version are bypassed.
There are even videos on Youtube! At 5 minute a story, also perfect for the preschooler.
So what book versions are out there?
books.com.tw 博客來 sells these Chinese only versions published by 鴻仁文教, 16 books+4CDs in each set. Click on the links for the titles of each book in English. Though I kind of take exception to the way they marketed these books. Why do publishers like to market books that teach some sort of moral? And why are all the books related to bad habits on Little Misses and all the books on EQ have Mr. Men in them?
Then there’s a bilingual version published by 喜樂亞. Some of these books are bigger, closer to 8 inches. One set’s formatting opens from left to right. I heard some online review that says these books are translated from simplified. Haven’t verified it myself.
You can distinguish between the two different publishers by the book covers. The 鴻仁文教 version has black titles, the 喜樂亞 has colored titles.
- Ximalaya.com – http://www.ximalaya.com/17523845/album/414213
- Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiwWxwIu1rU&list=PL-tdDCYXUbU2f9UR1ThXGbl-MJ4qLGGpx
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