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As heartwarming and satisfying as a bowl of noodle soup.

A rags-to-riches true story about a legendary entrepreneur renowned for his noodle soup.

The narrative begins in 1918, as Ma Mon Luk (1896-1961) sorrowfully bids farewell to his sweetheart, Ng Shih, whose parents have deemed him too poor to marry. “The rich and the poor, like oil and water, [don't] mix.” Determined to prove Ng Shih’s parents wrong, he leaves Canton, China, for the Philippines to make a name for himself. While wandering the bustling streets of Manila’s Chinatown, he’s inspired to make his own version of his hometown favorite, chicken noodle soup. “Clink, clank, clink!” Day after day, he carries his jangling wares with a bamboo pole, selling noodles to rich and poor alike. His hard work and perseverance pay off, and his soup, known as mami—“‘Ma' after his name and ‘mi’ for noodles”—becomes famous. Over time, his success allows him to give back to the community and reconnect with his love. He opens a restaurant “where rich and poor people, unlike oil and water, [mix].” The lightly textured illustrations gracefully support the emotional resonance of the tale, contrasting bright, warm colors against a muted palette to heighten moments of success, longing, and nostalgia. Chio-Lauri’s use of short sentences, onomatopoeia, and repetition breaks up larger sections of text and will keep readers engaged in this compelling success story about the Mami King.

As heartwarming and satisfying as a bowl of noodle soup. (glossary; author’s and illustrator’s notes; more information on Ma and his mami, the people of the Philippines and the oldest Chinatown, and the carrying stick and the kitchen shears; bibliography; mami recipe) (Picture-book biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781728492353

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless.

Tales of a fourth grade ne’er-do-well.

It seems that young Jordan is stuck in a never-ending string of bad luck. Sure, no one’s perfect (except maybe goody-two-shoes William Feranek), but Jordan can’t seem to keep his attention focused on the task at hand. Try as he may, things always go a bit sideways, much to his educators’ chagrin. But Jordan promises himself that fourth grade will be different. As the year unfolds, it does prove to be different, but in a way Jordan couldn’t possibly have predicted. This humorous memoir perfectly captures the square-peg-in-a-round-hole feeling many kids feel and effectively heightens that feeling with comic situations and a splendid villain. Jordan’s teacher, Mrs. Fisher, makes an excellent foil, and the book’s 1970s setting allows for her cruelty to go beyond anything most contemporary readers could expect. Unfortunately, the story begins to run out of steam once Mrs. Fisher exits. Recollections spiral, losing their focus and leading to a more “then this happened” and less cause-and-effect structure. The anecdotes are all amusing and Jordan is an endearing protagonist, but the book comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome with sheer repetitiveness. Thankfully, it ends on a high note, one pleasant and hopeful enough that readers will overlook some of the shabbier qualities. Jordan is White and Jewish while there is some diversity among his classmates; Mrs. Fisher is White.

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless. (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64723-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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