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by Sylvia Chen ; illustrated by Fanny Liem

Pub Date: March 19th, 2024
ISBN: 9781665921497
Publisher: Atheneum

A young girl of Chinese descent struggles to use chopsticks.

Despite her best efforts, Jenny Chow cannot figure out how to use “slippery, wobbly, and tricky” chopsticks. Everyone she knows can pick up dumplings and noodles with ease; even her little sister has mastered the skill! Jenny’s plight is obvious to everyone. Her mother encourages her to keep trying, her cousin laughs at her, and even the waiter at the dim sum restaurant knows to bring Jenny a fork, to her great embarrassment. As the Chow family’s Annual Chopsticks Challenge approaches, Jenny is determined to learn how to use the troublesome utensils once and for all. She perseveres through extensive trial and error, but will she finally wow her family? Chen’s use of onomatopoeia (represented in both English and Mandarin characters) perfectly conveys Jenny’s frustrations, while Liem’s appealing cartoon illustrations capture Jenny’s experiments in chopstick re-engineering with slapstick humor and cleverness. Young chopstick users will find comfort in this story about a common rite of passage, but all readers will be delighted by Jenny’s problem-solving prowess. Most characters appear East Asian. In an author’s note, Chen discusses how, when she was younger, her mother set up “chopstick challenges” for her and her sisters. Instructions for making chopsticks tongs conclude the work.

A funny, relatable tale about the value of creative thinking and persistence.

(Picture book. 4-8)