I was hoping to find some books that had both the Chinese characters (called hànzì) as well as the words spelled in pīnyīn. One of the women who works there speaks a little English, and she was extremely helpful. I ended up getting a great beginner's workbook style of book that seems to be at a kindergarten or first grade level, a few beginner writing practice books (the kind where you trace the pieces of the Chinese characters in the correct order of how you're supposed to write each stroke, which I hear is pretty important), and a few story books that have both hànzì and pinyin. Just what I was looking for!
So over the past day since getting my books, I've been working through the workbook while using my Chinese-English dictionary to look up the words, and just now I attempted to translate the first page of one of my story books, using the dictionary of course. It was a really fun exercise. I got a kick out of the strictly literal translation, so I wanted to post it here for fun's sake. It's amazing how much is lost in translation, or rather how much you truly need to hear and speak the language with other people to really learn the nuances :)
(the very very very strictly literal, dictionary translation!)
To be one far far of little mountain village, lives pigs mother gentle she of three children. Old big call hu hu, old two call lu lu, old three call du du. They relate with each other blood relatives relate with each other love, born alive very fast happy.
I'm sure just about any English speaking person can catch the drift of this, especially since just about everyone has probably heard the story :) So here's a translation that adds in some of the smoothness, since I've heard most of the words on this first page in conversations.