Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic

AuntieYangSoybeanPicnic

Image Credit: Lee & Low Books Inc., Ginnie Lo/Beth Lo

 

There’s nothing like finding a little bit of home in a new place.

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic tells a story that may be familiar to many immigrant families in the US; a story about finding comfort with like minded people and forming community in a new country. Jinyi lives a little far away from her Auntie Yang but her family makes sure to visit often and stay close. She grows up with Chinese lessons, art lessons, cooking Chinese food and lots of playtime with her cousins.

One day on a lazy Sunday drive, Auntie Yang spots soybeans growing in a field! At this time, soybeans aren’t commonly eaten in the US. The farmer thinks the Chinese family wants the beans to feed their pig, but no, they will boil them to eat! And so begins the yearly tradition of The Great Soybean Picnic. Each year it gets bigger and bigger and more Chinese families in the Chicago area join in with lots of delicious Chinese dishes. Auntie Yang and her sister become less homesick because the happy discovery of soybeans brings them a new large and loving Chinese community in the US.

This is a sweet story of family, food and finding place…in a new place. It’s inspired by real events and in the back of the book, Ginnie and Beth Lo share family photos, more information about the Soybean Picnic, information about soybeans and a glossary of the Chinese words used in the book. We even get to see photos of the dynamic Auntie Yang!

Beth Lo’s paintings have a vintage mid-century Chinese art vibe to them that I like. I didn’t realize that the illustrations are actually painted on porcelain plates until I read the back of the book. I’ll repeat that, each “illustration” is a plate! How cool is that?? Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic is a great story to share with your family. I’m off to get some edamame! 😉

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Chinese American Culture, Chinese Food, Friendship, Family, Food Culture, Community, Immigration, Soybeans, Cousins, Siblings, Cultural Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Home Sickness, Discussion, New Traditions in a New Place, Chinese Language, Cultural Relativism
Book Info: Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo/Illustrated by Beth Lo, 2012 Lee & Low Books Inc., ISBN: 9781600604423

Dim Sum for Everyone!

Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), Grace Lin

Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), Grace Lin

Dim Sum for Everyone is delightful. I previously reviewed the book Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park…can you guess that I love Asian food? 🙂 Grace Lin writes a beautifully simple story about a family enjoying dim sum. It is based on her family’s experiences going to dim sum restaurants while growing up. If you don’t know what dim sum is, don’t worry, this book explains how it works; “Little dishes on carts” and “Little dishes on tables.” Lin also weaves in Chinese words. We learn that Ma-ma (mother) likes sweet pork buns and Ba-ba (father) likes the shrimp dishes. In this way, children are introduced to new words and are learning without realizing it. At the end of the book, she includes more information about dim sum and yum cha (tea drinking) culture.

I recommend the hardcover version of this book because it showcases the illustrations best but the board book is also good for little hands. Bold, contrasting colors make the illustrations stand out. My favorite page shows the dim sum cart ladies lined up in a row against the bright red carpet of the restaurant. Most pages are illustrated as if the reader is sitting at the table with the family and therefore, the book has a very inviting feeling. Are you ready for dim sum? I know I am. Let’s go eat!

P.S. Be sure to check out the endpapers. They celebrate the various ingredients that make up Chinese cuisine and popular dim sum dishes.

Recommended for: Toddlers and up
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Food Culture, Discussion, Colors, Chinese Language
Book Info: Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin, 2001 Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), ISBN: 9780375810824