As Shao Ming hunts for her mother’s beloved wok, she embarks on a mouthwatering journey through her village.
On Zhong Qiu Jie, or the Mid-Autumn Festival, Shao Ming is tasked with delivering her mom’s wok to her uncle’s house. On her way, she stops to watch the parade. Shao Ming is “mesmerized by the huge dragon” and, in her daze, loses track of the wok. Devastated, she scours the neighborhood, inadvertently going on a foodie adventure. First, Shao Ming samples mapo tofu, a spicy Szechuan dish of pork and tofu at a local restaurant. Then, she shares a pot of tea with an elderly man to “calm [her] heart” and lunches on steamed crabs dipped in soy sauce—a Shanghainese specialty. At her last stop, a dim sum restaurant, the chef tells Shao Ming to go home, saying that her mother would “be sadder to have lost you than to have lost the wok.” While the story is an enjoyable vehicle for insight into Chinese culture and cuisine, the stiff prose (apparently literally translated from the original Korean) is not picture-book friendly. Thankfully, lively and colorful illustrations bolster the book, vividly capturing life in a rural Chinese village. Noh doesn’t skimp on minutiae. Everything from stir-fried veggies and dim sum delicacies to painted teapots and popping firecrackers is drawn to delicate detail.
Educators will find value in this valiant effort to share a foreign culture with American children. (cultural, culinary notes) (Picture book. 4-9)