An utterly delectable feast of history and storytelling.

The hidden histories, fantastical folklore, and tastiest tidbits of American Chinese cuisine.

Organized like a meal, from appetizers and soups to chef’s specials and desserts, Lin uncovers the secrets behind the most famous dishes of American Chinese restaurant menus. Each section contains a brief introduction, with first-person narration offering context through personal anecdotes and historical facts. Then it’s off to the banquet: a bounty of wondrous, romantic, and sometimes grotesque tales that trace the origins of rice, wontons, Peking duck, and more. As with much folklore, the stories sometimes contain references to dark or mature topics (poverty, suicide, concubines), but thoughtful, age-appropriate commentary strikes an effective balance. The volume is liberally illustrated—contemporary images are rendered in full color, while illustrations of the stories appear in limited palettes, drawing a clear distinction between the past and the present. Many tales take place in dynastic China, but stories like “General Tso’s Chicken” and “Chop Suey” underscore the truly American natures of these dishes. Although the vast ground covered here could, ​​in less skilled hands, overwhelm the uninitiated—the dishes chronicled extend as far back as 7000 BCE and up to the 1950s—Lin’s conversational asides and the book’s meticulous supporting materials, including a timeline and extensive endnotes, ensure that readers never lose their way. The illustrations and tone indicate a young readership, but there’s much here for readers and eaters of all ages.

An utterly delectable feast of history and storytelling. (map, author’s note, recipe, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780316486002

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021



A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Close Quickview