Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Alice Pung, Sher Rill Ng

From best-selling author Alice Pung and renowned illustrator Sher Rill Ng comes an extraordinarily powerful and moving book about how the past can shape the future.

Xiao Xin believes he is a red fire warrior but his family are always telling him to be careful. They believe the world is a dangerous place. Too dangerous for a little boy on his own.

They don’t understand what I can do!

They don’t understand what I can be!

Renowned storytellers Alice Pung and Sher Rill Ng bring to life a beautiful and tender story about learning to conquer your own fears – as a child, and as an adult.

Judge’s Comment

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!, by Alice Pung and illustrated by Sher Rill Ng, is a bilingual picture book of unusual depth that raises the bar in demonstrating how to deliver a nuanced, multilayered text that is rich in teaching and learning opportunities across different year levels. Xiao Xin tells the moving story of a boy who chafes against the overprotectiveness of his family and longs for them to see the warrior he is inside. As the story continues, however, we are given insights into why his family find it difficult to let go of their fears for their children’s safety. The interplay of text and illustrations beautifully creates layers of meaning that add to our understanding of all the characters in the story. In the text, parallel English and Chinese-language scripts are given equal weight, with primacy given to the first language of the character whose perspective is being portrayed. This is unusual to see in a bilingual text and the thoughtful use of the two languages is demonstrates the value and importance of the different languages spoken in Australia. A major strength of the book is the way the written text is extended through illustrations and design. The subtext provided by the visual dimension deepens the reader’s understanding of the characters’ emotions, perspectives and history and creates many opportunities for teachers and students to explore, decode and analyse how meaning is conveyed through different visual techniques. Be Careful, Xiao Xin! is an outstanding example of a book that can be used as an authentic/mentor text for literature, language and visual literacy, as well as providing a springboard for rich discussions about how a person’s culture, history and language influences their actions and perspectives on the world.

Shortlist, Winner, Educational Picture Book
Resource type
Student Resource
Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences
September 2022
Print or blended

Working Title Press: An imprint of HarperCollins Children's Books Australia

HarperCollins Children’s Books aims to inspire and nurture a lifelong love of reading by publishing the best books for children of all ages. One of the leading publishers of children’s books, it is recognised for nurturing new talent as well as boasting a reputable list of established best-selling authors. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins Children’s Books Australia is home to many of the biggest names in children’s literature past and present, including Jackie French, Matt Stanton, Emily Rodda, Norman Lindsay, Ruth Park, C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, David Walliams, Veronica Roth and John Green.