Childrens Book Review of M Is for Myanmar: Bilingual Burmese and English Story by Elizabeth Rush

by DerdriuMarriner

The former Burma now carries the name Myanmar. Both names describe Southeast Asia’s most mysterious country. The first step to understanding is remembering that “M is for Myanmar.”

The names Burma and Myanmar are basically two ways of saying the same thing. They communicate similar information about one country. They designate the Bamar, the majority ethnic group to which two-thirds of all Burmese belong.

Burma emerges as the group’s colloquial, informal name in the Burmese language. Myanmar contrastingly functions as the name’s more formal, literary configuration.

It gets used either alone or as part of the currently complete name, Republic of the Union of Myanmar. It is the more recent choice of the two names since its official usage just dates back to 1989. The name Burma still may be found used even though it is politically correct to think “M is for Myanmar.”

"Burmese alphabet" transliterated as mranma akkha.ra in Burmese script

Burmese script sample
Burmese script sample


The letters of the Burmese alphabet assume the rounded shapes of broken and intertwining circles. The shapes betray the traditional instruments and materials for writing the language: styluses applied to palm leaves. The stylus configures in the writing of many of the world’s languages, from ancient Sumer’s cuneiform of about 3500 B.C. onward. It cooperates nicely with the Burmese alphabet, which combines consonant letters and vowel notations into units. The Burmese language’s writing system dates back to the tenth or eleventh century. It exists today in a fluid form which responds to:

  • Commercial, scientific, and technological updates;
  • Latin alphabet transliterations.

It has to count among the world’s prettiest writing systems, as evidenced in M is for Myanmar.


aesthetics of Burmese script

Sun U Ponnya Shin-Pagoda, Sagaing, central Myanmar
Sun U Ponnya Shin-Pagoda, Sagaing, central Myanmar


In M is for Myanmar, Hla advises her younger sister -- the only family member born elsewhere -- that:

  • Breakfast is cereal-free;
  • Everyone may get dunked during Buddhist New Year pre-monsoon festivals;
  • Grass-eating buffalos plow rice paddies;
  • Both genders prefer skirts (longyi);
  • Thanaka (bark ground yellow-white) paste and sugarcane juice protect against heat and sunburn;
  • Two-wheeled trishaws rule under traffic-congested Yangon’s periwinkle skies.

She describes:

  • Bamboo groves;
  • Doorbells;
  • Drum-punctuated pwe dramas with flower-carrying, sword-wielding women;
  • Monks praying Amhya sahdu (“Share! Well-done!”).

She extols:

  • Pickled tea;
  • Mohinga noodles with ginger, lemongrass, and river fish;
  • Sweet sago soup.

She mentions:

  • Inle Lake fishermen’s leg-held oars;
  • Mount Kyaiktiyo’s golden rock balanced on Buddha’s hair strand;
  • 60-ton gold, wish-granting Shwedagon Pagoda.


Thanaka paste in artistic designs decorate little girl's face as well as protect her skin from sun.

Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, central Myanmar
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, central Myanmar



Readers of M is for Myanmar appreciate learning how to say “Hello!” (Mingalaba) in Burmese. The book attracts culture- and travel-minded readers to the country’s unique sights and sounds. It benefits from the harmonious inputs of:

  • American Burma Buddhist Association as consultant;
  • Janet Brown as editor;
  • Janet McKelpin as book and cover designer;
  • Khin Maung Myint as artist;
  • Gill Pattison, River Gallery, Yangon, as curator;
  • Elizabeth Rush as author;
  • Ma Thanegi as translator;
  • ThingsAsian Press as publisher.

Librarians and teachers generally confer upon M is for Myanmar literacy levels of:

  • Ages 5 – 9+;
  • Grades kindergarten through fourth grade.

But the guide book agelessly cooperates with parents, readers, and teachers intent upon:

  • Burmese language-learning;
  • Cultural enrichment;
  • Educational entertainment.


M is for Myanmar (Alphabetical World) by Elizabeth Rush ~ illustrated by Khin Maung Myint

Two sisters are on their way to visit their parents’ birthplace. Hla, the older sister, brings Myanmar in an enchanting way, such as Shwedagon Pagoda shining like a hundred crazy stars.
Myanmar-themed books



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Myanmar's golden sites ~ Kyaiktiyo Pagoda over the Golden Rock on Mount Kyaiktiyo: small pagoda (24 feet, or 7.3 meters) perches atop granite boulder, pasted with gold leaves, which, in turn, is believed to balance on a strand of Buddha's hair.

Mount Kyaiktiyo, Mon State, southern Myanmar
Mount Kyaiktiyo, Mon State, southern Myanmar

Sources Consulted


"About Us." ThingsAsian Retrieved December 12, 2014.

  • Available at:

Rush, Elizabeth. 2011. M is for Myanmar. Illustrations by Khin Maung Myint. San Francisco, CA: ThingsAsian Press "ThingsAsian Kids."


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Buddha - What we think we shall become: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

The primary religion of Myanmar is Theravada Buddhism.
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 01/03/2022, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 12/13/2014

MBC, This is a great book for children of all ages. It is done well. Buddhism has definitely left an enduring legacy in Myanmar, a unique country with great appeal for everyone, from researchers to tourists, and, yes, certainly for Buddhists from elsewhere.

MBC on 12/12/2014

This looks like a book I could read and learn from, so I'm sure it's great for children too. I'm Buddhist so I'm interested in Burma.

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