Learning to use something new is never easy.
Young Maggie has a new set of chopsticks, but everyone says she is using them incorrectly. Evocative and appealing digitally enhanced watercolors show how Grandmother, Mother, Brother and Sister eat with their chopsticks (shoveling, popping, plucking and dancing, respectively), but Maggie can’t seem to follow any of their examples. The Kitchen God has nothing helpful to say, and Maggie’s private practicing doesn’t help her either; it’s not until Father offers praise and comforting words about individuality that Maggie finds her own style, “like a butterfly emerging / from a long winter’s sleep.” Though something seems lost here—it is difficult to see whether the setting is China or elsewhere, whether using chopsticks with style is a cultural phenomenon or based on Maggie’s own observations, and whether Maggie improves through practice, simply accepts herself or both—the story is well-intentioned, the character plucky and hardworking, and the illustrations warm and striking.
Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success. (Picture book.3-5)