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Books Review: Bella’s Chinese New Year and Bella’s Vietnam Adventure by Stacey Zolt Hara

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Trying to raise intercultural kids? In this global age, who isn’t? The world is getting smaller — and we need to teach our kids to revel in – and explore — different cultures. I’m always on the lookout for books for kids that share the world in fun ways. I’ve found a great new series of picture books for younger readers that just fits the bill.

Travel with Bella
“Travel with Bella” is the genius brainchild of expat Stacey Zolt Hara. Thus far, there are two books in the “Travel with Bella” series. First up is Bella’s Chinese New Year – an explosion of color and culture that is sure to delight any reader. In Bella’s Chinese New Year, the reader follows preschooler Bella through the streets of Singapore to her school – where a Chinese New Year party is going on! It’s a bright, visual glimpse of life in another culture, of different holidays and how they are celebrated, at least in one corner of the world. My own daughter (9) loved the fact that the kids got to THROW FOOD. Yes. Author Zolt Hara sure knows how to get – and keep – young attentions.

Bella's Chinese New YearThe second book in the series, Bella’s Vietnam Adventure, follows Bella and her family from their home in Singapore to a vacation in Vietnam. Once again a colorful glimpse into another culture, Bella learns about crazy traffic and motorbikes, ordering tailored clothes, playing on the beach, discovers a WHOLE street full of stores just for selling shoes, and sees the sights of Hanoi, Danang, and Hoi An.

Bella's Vietnam AdventureWe asked author Stacey Zolt Hara about her inspiration for the books in the “Travel with Bella” series. Here’s what she had to say:

“My favorite and most insightful travel memories always come from the parts between the list of must-see sights. These small interactions with local people or my kids’ reactions to the culture are usually the bits that resonate with me most. These are the scenes that make up the ‘Travel with Bella’ stories. A great example is the cyclo ride in Bella’s Vietnam Adventure. We took a ride like this with my parents while in Ho Chi Minh in 2008. We were five people in four cyclos racing through the streets, motorcycles and cars whizzing by us, people waving, stopping to touch the Real Bella – it was amazing.

The non-family characters are usually a hybrid of real people. For example, in Bella’s Chinese New Year, Mrs. Tan is a blend of a woman who owned a food stall near our old apartment in Singapore who befriended Rose and the cook at Rose’s preschool, who goes by ‘Auntie Tan.’”

If you’re interested in learning more about the Travel with Bella book series, head to On the site, you can share your own travel experiences on an interactive map! There are also curriculum guides for parents and teachers. And, as a mom and international educator, I am glad that these books are readily available for readers – it’s a perfect way to start learning about other cultures – and the world!

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About Dr. Jessie Voigts

  • Stacey Zolt Hara

    Dr. Voights,
    Thank you for your thoughtful review! I truly hope Bella ignites kids’ curiousity about the world and encourages a love for travel at an early age.
    Yours in adventure,

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    Stacey – I am so pleased to share your excellent books here – they are an invaluable resource – and highly recommended!