This is a fantastic book. I was learning Arabic and had a similar book to this in that language. With parallel English and Chinese writing this is perfect to assist any learning program. Only thing missing is a MP3 CD with the stories read in chinese which my arabic book had.
An interesting selection of stories. However, my three greatest criticisms would be that:
1. There are many, many character-related mistakes in the Chinese texts. From what I can infer, this is the fault of the editor John Balcom, and not the original authors. It can be simple things like confusing 天 with 田, 球 with 秋. This can only be the result of sloppy editing at the input stage. Since this book is marketed on some level as a language-learning tool, a beginner-intermediate learner must approach the Chinese texts with a degree of skepticism. Reading the Chinese texts with a critical eye may be, in and of itself, a useful language-learning exercise, but it is admittedly not the aim of the book.
2. On a similar note, the English translations are often questionable.
3. Better stories could have been chosen for this selection. The ones that I enjoyed most were Receiving the Precepts and Lanterns for the dead, but I found the others often dull. China has much better literature that John Balcom could have chosen from.
I would recommend this book as it has English and Chinese in it. The chinese characters were a good size and has good spacing in between the chararcters but I have not read it yet. I like the look of this book.