With Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節 coming up next month, we had some fun putting together a gift guide from our community!
01 / “The Shadow in the Moon” by Christina Matula, illustrated by Pearl Law
Two sisters and their grandmother celebrate a popular Chinese holiday with family. Their favorite part? Mooncakes, of course–along with Ah-ma’s story of the ancient Chinese tale of Hou Yi, a brave young archer, and his wife, Chang’E. A long, long time ago, Hou Yi rescued the earth from the heat of ten suns. The Immortals rewarded him with a magic potion that could let him live in the sky with them forever. But when a thief tries to steal the potion, what will Chang’E do to keep it out of dangerous hands? The sisters are mesmerized by Ah-ma’s retelling and the fact that the very mooncakes they enjoy each holiday are a symbol of this legend’s bravest soul.
More from TaiwaneseAmerican.org: A Girl Worth Rooting For: Meet Holly-Mei Jones (interview with Christina Matula)
02 / Mid-Autumn Festival prints by illustrator Julia Chen of Half Sugar, Less Ice
“I have fillings for you” – Shop here
“You’re mid” – Shop here
“Let’s Netflix and 秋” – Shop here
03 / Mooncakes by Te Company
Also featured in the New York Times, this style of mooncake is our absolute favorite among moon-inspired pastries. Our Taiwanese Mooncake is filled with sweetened mung bean paste that’s “not too sweet” and encased in a soft flaky outer dough.
Like all of our pastries, these are made to order. Making the filling is a seven-step process, from rinsing and soaking the mung beans to boiling and sifting them. The dough is hand-layered like a croissant and wrapped one at a time. Its unfussy look understates the effort required – until you take your first bite.
We adore this pastry for its simplicity and deliciousness. Our high-elevation oolongs, Mount Pyrus and Mount Qilai, make for a delightful pairing.
04 / “Mooncake Phases” and Mooncake sticker by illustrator Jane Li
月餅 (mooncakes) are typically eaten during 中秋節 (Mid-Autumn Festival) in celebration of the harvest, but you can celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival and your love for mooncakes all year round with this art print featuring the classic basic bitch moon phases with an Asian American twist.
This print comes in multiple sizes, so you can find the perfect one that fits your college dorm room, office, bedroom, living room or even in your kitchen. It also makes a great gift for friends or family!
Shop “Mooncake Phases” print and Mooncake stickers here.
05 / Mooncake Playset & Bilingual Mid-Autumn Holiday Books
Young families will love this wooden mooncake playset and Mid-Autumn holiday bundle of bilingual books (available in Mandarin and Cantonese) by Bitty Bao.
Shop Bitty Bao here.
We also appreciate how the Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated across many Asian cultures and diasporas. Check out some of our notable lit picks from the broader Asian American community, including…
01 / “Fake Dates and Mooncakes,” a YA debut by Sher Lee
Heartstopper meets Crazy Rich Asians in this heartfelt, joyful paperback original rom-com that follows an aspiring chef who discovers the recipe for love is more complicated than it seems when he starts fake-dating a handsome new customer.
Dylan Tang wants to win a Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake-making competition for teen chefs–in memory of his mom, and to bring much-needed publicity to his aunt’s struggling Chinese takeout in Brooklyn.
Enter Theo Somers: charming, wealthy, with a smile that makes Dylan’s stomach do backflips. AKA a distraction. Their worlds are sun-and-moon apart, but Theo keeps showing up. He even convinces Dylan to be his fake date at a family wedding in the Hamptons.
In Theo’s glittering world of pomp, privilege, and crazy rich drama, their romance is supposed to be just pretend . . . but Dylan finds himself falling for Theo. For real. Then Theo’s relatives reveal their true colors–but with the mooncake contest looming, Dylan can’t risk being sidetracked by rich-people problems.
Can Dylan save his family’s business and follow his heart–or will he fail to do both?
02 / “Mooncakes & Milk Bread” by Kristina Cho
2022 JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER – Baking and Desserts
2022 JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER – Emerging Voice, Books
ONE OF THE TEN BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Times
ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time Out, Glamour, Taste of Home
Food blogger Kristina Cho (eatchofood.com) introduces you to Chinese bakery cooking with fresh, simple interpretations of classic recipes for the modern baker.
Inside, you’ll find sweet and savory baked buns, steamed buns, Chinese breads, unique cookies, whimsical cakes, juicy dumplings, Chinese breakfast dishes, and drinks. Recipes for steamed BBQ pork buns, pineapple buns with a thick slice of butter, silky smooth milk tea, and chocolate Swiss rolls all make an appearance–because a book about Chinese bakeries wouldn’t be complete without them
In Mooncakes & Milk Bread, Kristina teaches you to whip up these delicacies like a pro, including how to:
- Knead dough without a stand mixer
- Avoid collapsed steamed buns
- Infuse creams and custards with aromatic tea flavors
- Mix the most workable dumpling dough
- Pleat dumplings like an Asian grandma
This is the first book to exclusively focus on Chinese bakeries and cafés, but it isn’t just for those nostalgic for Chinese bakeshop foods–it’s for all home bakers who want exciting new recipes to add to their repertoires.
03 / “Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival” by Grace Lin
This simple, young, and satisfying story follows a Chinese American family as they celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.
Each member of the family lends a hand as they prepare a moonlit picnic with mooncakes, pomelos, cups of tea, and colorful lanterns. And everyone sends thanks and a secret wish up to the moon.
Grace Lin’s luminous and gloriously patterned artwork is perfect for this holiday tale. Her story is simple–tailor-made for reading aloud to young children. And she includes an informative author’s note with further details on the customs and traditions of the Moon Festival for parents and teachers. The Moon Festival is one of the most important holidays of the year along with the Lunar New Year, so this book makes an excellent companion to Grace Lin’s Bringing In the New Year, which features the same family.
04 / “A Big Mooncake” for Little Star by Grace Lin
A gorgeous picture book that tells a whimsical origin story of the phases of the moon, from award-winning, bestselling author-illustrator Grace Lin
Pat, pat, pat…
Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake.
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?
In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.
05 / “The Best Kind of Mooncake” by Pearl Auyeung
Once upon a morning in Hong Kong, in the alley of Tai Yuen Street, a girl is promised a mooncake with a double-yolk center–the best kind!
The special mooncake seems like the only excitement on an otherwise boring day in the market where nothing changes… until an exhausted stranger falls to his knees right in the street! He ran through forests, swam through rivers, and even stowed away on a ship, all to get to Hong Kong. Now at the end of his journey, all he needs is a bite to eat, but no one seems willing to help–not even the girl, if it means giving up her prized treat.
The girl’s ultimate decision has surprising, far-reaching consequences in this mostly true story that reminds us that even the smallest acts of kindness hold the power to change lives, for the giver as much as the receiver.