Free Paper Toys and Grandfather Counts by Andrea Cheng

grandfather counts

I recently visited our local library and found the cover art and title of this picture book very warm and inviting. Are you familiar with Andrea Cheng's story?

Gong Gong (Grandfather) is coming from China to live with Helen's family. Helen is excited but anxious. How will she and her siblings, who know only English, communicate with Gong Gong, who speaks only Chinese.


At first, Gong Gong keeps to himself, reading the Chinese newspapers he brought with him. then one day, as Helen sits outside watching for the train that runs behind her house, Gong Gong joins her. He starts counting the train cars in Chinese and then teaches Helen the words. Helen reciprocates by teaching Gong Gong to count in English. Soon they are teaching each other more words, and a special bond between them begins to develop and grow. 


In her picture book debut, Andrea Cheng tells a moving story that highlights the universality of the love shared between grandparent, a love that helps them cross the boundaries of language and culture. Luminous paintings by Ange Zhang richly capture the warm spirit of this intergenerational story.


First Sentence:

Gong Gong, Grandfather, was one of the last people off the plane.
Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ages 4-8. Helen is bothered by having to give up her room to Gong Gong, her Chinese grandfather, when he comes to live with the family. She's puzzled by his sitting and reading his Chinese newspapers. As she can no longer watch the trains from her bedroom window, she sits on the concrete wall in the backyard to count the cars and wave to the engineer. It's there one evening that Gong Gong joins her and teaches her to count the cars in Chinese. They sit together long after the engineer waves good-bye, counting in both Chinese and English. So begin their language lessons and a special relationship. Conveying nuggets of Chinese culture as well as bits of the language, Cheng's story hints honestly at the difficulties of resettling an aged, non-English-speaking relative, and in velvety colors, Zhang's acrylics paint the growing relationship with simple integrity. A brief glossary with pronunciation guides presents words in both Chinese and English. Ellen Mandel

Product Details

  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Paperback: 36 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (March 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584301589
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584301585
I love this one. Not only is it a great educational journey but a beautiful story of family and love.

You will find beautiful paper toys to make from The Toymaker

One of my favorite  toys are the Koi Kites. Instructions for all free patterns to print can be found at her website. For more information, visit

Marilyn Scott Waters illustration
Photo Credit: Marilyn Scott-Waters
 To make a Rabbit in the Moon Card, stop by

I love Marilyn's site. She has the coolest ideas and it's fun to make paper toys!

map of Japan

Another family fun favorite that I like, especially the beautiful colors in this project:

Carp Wind Sock. Instructions can be found at

Carp Windsock
Photo Credit: Asian Crafts for Kids

My Grandson loves to color and play with paper. Our family loves to read books together.
How about you?

-- LadyD

    “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

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