A fascinating historical character is presented in terms easy for young children to appreciate, and requests to experiment...

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DUMPLING DREAMS

HOW JOYCE CHEN BROUGHT THE DUMPLING FROM BEIJING TO CAMBRIDGE

One of America’s most famous 20th-century immigrants, Joyce Chen, gained notoriety the hard way.

Brought up in pre-revolutionary China, Chen left Shanghai with her husband and two children in 1949 to immigrate to the U.S., where she settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lively cartoonish pastel-and-crayon illustrations and rhyming couplets show how young Jia (later renamed Joyce) learned to cook with a man the text simply calls Cook, possibly a family servant, mastering the traditional art of making dumplings, noodles, and sweet rice balls. At the dragon boat festival, she proudly presents her father with her own creation, zongzi rice packages tightly tied “with five bright strings.” Once in the U.S., Joyce and her children face the challenge of life in America: “New words to learn. Strange food to try.” Chen becomes a mentor to other Chinese immigrants and is soon inspired to open a restaurant. The restaurant is immediately popular, but her dumplings aren’t. She overcomes the perception of Chinese food as “gluey stew” by rebranding her dumplings as “Peking Ravioli.” A cookbook and a TV show soon follow, and she has successfully introduced authentic Chinese cuisine to the East Coast. A timeline, glossary, bibliography, and dumpling recipes are included.

A fascinating historical character is presented in terms easy for young children to appreciate, and requests to experiment with dumpling dough will certainly ensue. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6707-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

ROSA PARKS

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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