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

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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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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