Ugly Dumpling is down on itself because it doesn’t look like the other dumplings. They’re also pretty ugly but for some reason, it’s ignored and left alone! One day, a cute cockroach spots Ugly Dumpling and they begin a journey of discovery. Cockroach has a BIG heart and shows Ugly Dumpling all the wonders of their world. Suddenly, Ugly Dumpling spots other dumplings that look just like it, but wait…they’re STEAMED BUNS!? It was separated at birth! While Ugly Dumpling preens and glows with a feeling of acceptance, everyone has discovered his friend Cockroach, including the other Steamed Buns…AHHH! Luckily, Ugly Dumpling remembers that a good friend doesn’t hesitate to support a friend when they’re down.
Bold reds, greens and browns fill the pages of this book and Kober brings the reader comfortably inside the busy world of a dim sum restaurant. Lusciously plump (ugly? 😉 ) dumplings are enjoyed by a room of multicultural people. I particularly like the spread where Cockroach shows Ugly Dumpling the world; Kober creates the feeling of a far-away land with pyramids of flour and folded napkins.
In this story, The Ugly Dumpling thinks it’s found happiness among its own kind but…maybe looking like everyone else doesn’t necessarily mean you’re like everyone else, on the inside, where it really counts. Sometimes our fillings are different and that’s okay. Friendship can come in the most unexpected ways and that is pretty beautiful.
***P.S. I stumbled upon this important review of this book. If readers pick up this book, I hope they’ll seek Chinese American/Asian American perspectives of this story. The fact that a cockroach is a main character is one of the biggest criticisms of this book (it implies dirtiness).
Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Gender-Neutral, Acceptance, Anti-Bullying, Encouragement, Inner Strength, Multicultural, Self-Worth
Book Info: The Ugly Dumpling by Stephanie Campisi/Illustrated by Shahar Kober, 2016 Mighty Media Kids (Mighty Media Press), ISBN: 9781938063671