Chap Goh Meh, a transcription of the Chinese Hokkien dialect into English, means the fifteenth night. It refers to the fifteenth night that marks the last day of the Chinese New Year.
This story begins with Nisa inviting Lili to a meal of Lontong Cap Goh Meh during Lebaran or Hari Raya Idul Fitri. She explains what comprises the Lontong Cap Goh Meh which is a set of meal with dishes such as chicken, vegetables, sambal and the lontong (compressed rice) of course.
Nisa then goes on to talk about what they do during Lebaran including visiting relatives and that she gets money gifts too - 'Banyak sekali, bunyinya gemerencing!'
Nisa adds that they eat Lontong Cap Goh Meh during lebaran and it is her special task to send the food to their neighbours.
All this time, Lili is trying to interrupt Nisa. You can see in some of the illustrations, Lili's head showing at different places. Finally she gets a chance to talk. The Lontong Cap Goh Meh, she says, is a special food during Imlek or Chinese New Year. During Chinese New Year, there are dragon dances, the lantern festival and they get given money packets too. (This is somewhat different from what we do here in Malaysia).
The astonished Nisa says, 'But the lontong Cap Goh Meh is a special food during lebaran!" "And for Imlek too," retorts Lili.
Finally, the two children wisely concluded, "Lebaran or Imlek, clearly, our favourite food is the same!"
The last page of the book provides an explanation of the origin of the lontong Cap Goh Meh which has been adapted by the Chinese in Indonesia.
This book is such a delight, the text (fortunately, I can read some Indonesian) goes hand-in-hand with the illustrations so well, we cannot imagine one without the other. We can hear the two girls chattering away and making comparisons as children tend to do. And the conclusion they reached, which is not an either or, black and white view, looks at accepting differences while enjoying sameness.
'Cap Goh Mei' was shortlisted for the Singtel Asian Picture Book Award 2013.
The author, Sophie Dewayani is an award-winning writer and researcher in the field of children's literature and literacy.
Illustrator Eugenia Gina has illustrated about 30 children's books. In 2012, she represented Indonesia in a SEAMEO (the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation) children's folktales illustration project in Southeast Asian Countries and Korea.
This book is published by Litara Foundation
Softcover, 36pages, 24 x 21.5cm