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Fun With Chinese Characters (Hai xia shi bao cong shu = The Straits times collection) (Paperback)

Fun With Chinese Characters (Hai xia shi bao cong shu = The Straits times collection) (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: Tan Huay Peng
Format: paperback
Emphasis: Chinese Characters
Level: Beginning - Intermediate
List Price: $14.95

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description
Fun with Chinese Characters (in three volumes) makes learning Chinese characters entertaining and memorable! Every page contains all the information you need to learn a Chinese character: the origin (etymology) of a character, its description and an entertaining illustration by cartoonist Tan Huay Peng. Knowing the origin greatly simplify the recognition the characters. The cartoons which accompany each character are often comical and clever. Examples of how the character is used in compound phrases are offered. First volume contains an in-depth introduction on the genesis of the characters. The third volume contains index of all 480 characters and their location.

The characters are written in traditional and simplified characters and has romanized pinyin pronunciation. Stroke orders, definition and example sentence make this book a valuable resource. Learning Chinese characters has never been so much fun! --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes
Text: Chinese, English


Product Details
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books (May 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9971460726
  • Average Customer Review: based on 17 reviews.

Customer Reviews


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Outstanding Work for a Number of Reasons, March 15, 2006

Reviewer: Mike Bybee "deshi" (Santa Fe, NM)

This book (with its two companion volumes) is a wonderful work for a number of reasons. Its introductory essay (a nine page historical overview of Chinese characters, emphasizing their phonetic-radical structure) is worth the price of the book all by itself. The cartoon drawings are artful and evocative. The generative and mnemonic entries are informative, historically based, and sublimely written. The work emphasizes simplified characters but supports traditional characters as well. It has examples of modern usage.
I have only a few caveats: The handwritten characters for given names (e.g., those for Cang Ji) in the introductory essay are virtually indecipherable. There are unfortunately no examples from literary Chinese (wen yan wen). Many proverbs (cheng yu)occur only in English translation, not in the original Chinese.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this work for beginners and intermediate Chinese readers. Advanced Chinese readers will appreciate it for its colloquial and artistic qualities--and may find amusing or enlightening tidbits within.


Awsome as a study aid!, January 23, 2006
Reviewer: Jan Douma "Movie fan" (New Orleans, LA, USA)

This is a really fun book. I'm currently in my first year of chinese and really enjoy using this book outside of school. My teacher recommended it to me. It illustrates characters that normally seem difficult in a fun way. This isn't the best choice for someone who is not taking chinese in a class but independantly. It doesn't give much detail on how to use the words. It's just like an interactive dictionary. I absolutely love it.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Great for What it Is!, March 15, 2005

Reviewer: NY Librarian (Brooklyn, NY United States)

This series is a great aid to memorizing characters. There is one character per page, and for each character there is an accompanying illustration, along with a selection of words and phrases that feature the character, the pin-yin pronunciation and the traditional character, if applicable. In addition, there is an illustration of the evolution of the character over time, from the most ancient form found on the tortoise shells, to the modern form.

It is not a scholarly reference book, and is not organized as such. It is meant to be flipped through casually and enjoyed. This series has been in print since the 1970s, so the illustrations ARE dated, as one reviewer points out below. Often the illustrations are of people in traditional costume, but one shouldn't take offense because of this! It wouldn't make any sense to see a pig, for example, hanging out in the house of a Beijinger with a bike parked out back; but the pig does make sense in an old farmer's house. Furthermore there is intelligent irony to be found in the illustrations that is sensitive to women's history and other issues. So, if you take offense with illustrations of people in traditional Chinese costume or of silk worms, lanterns, etc., this book is not for you. I say, lighten up and enjoy this wonderful book!


1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Light hearted approach to Chinese Characters - RECOMMENDED, July 17, 2004
Reviewer: A reader
This book is not just for Chinese learners. It can be read just for fun. How that characters are formed. I don't speak Chinese but it is still fun to look at this book series. The series cannot be viewed as a textbook because they are not intended to be. It is not for young children. My high school aged son was entertained by the book.


9 of 12 people found the following review helpful:

No Fun With Chinese Characters, June 5, 2004

Reviewer: Song's Daddy "Kyong Kim" (Koreatown (LA county))

I bought this book to teach my 12-year old daughter basic Chinese characters. However, she and I really struggled with this book in many ways. First, the book, though new, looks dated. Many of the comics feature a "Fu Man Chu" type Chinese character in humorous situations (that weren't humorous at all) to teach you Chinese. In fact, as a Chinese American I found the character highly offensive and extremely insulting. This is not a character who is representative of a Chinese national. I was surprised at Master Communications/Infini Press' utter lack of sensitivity and inability to create a more modern caricature of a Chinese person.

Second, I found the book disorganized and poorly written. I don't know if this series was originally in Chinese, but the book appears to be either a poor translation of Chinese or written by a Chinese person with poor English writing and grammar skills.

While the book is an honest attempt at teaching a complicated language in a seemingly uncomplicated way, this book ultimately falls flat. My daughter and I would NOT recommend this book as a way to learn Chinese characters.

You are better off with more tradional methods.


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

Fun?, May 13, 2004
Reviewer: A reader
Hmm...I don't think so. As a Chinese language teacher (25 years), this book is, perhaps, the worst manner in which to learn Chinese hànzi'(characters). Originally released in the 1970s(this is a re-release), this book makes a half-hearted attempt at humor by utilizing outdated comics from a leading Singapore newspaper, the Straits Times. As a result, "Fun With Chinese Characters" fails in its approach to teaching Chinese characters. Don't spend the yuan. If you'd like to learn Chinese characters I do not recommend this title.


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