THE STORY OF CHOPSTICKS by Ying Chang Compestine


Age Range: 5 - 10
Email this review


Kùai, the hungry younger brother in a large Chinese family, never gets enough to eat. Straight from the fire, the food is too hot to touch. If he waits for it to cool, his brothers beat him to it. Frustrated, Kùai devises a way to get the food first. While his family washes for dinner, Kùai snatches two pieces of kindling, sits down at the table, and spears a steaming sweet potato with one stick and a sizzling chicken chunk with the other. Inspired, his family fetches sticks themselves. They name them Kùai zi, or “quick ones,” after the quick-witted boy. As the story goes, “this was the first time that a family in China ate dinner with sticks instead of their hands.” When Kùai and his brothers whip the sticks out at a wedding buffet, their idea catches on. The wise Mr. Lee commands the family to visit the village elders, whom he convinces that using Kùai zi does not violate any Chinese rules for eating. Word reaches the Emperor and soon, people throughout China start using chopsticks. Compestine (The Runaway Rice Cake, 2000) concocts a delicious blend of fact and fiction. But children may wonder why Kùai can put the too-hot food in his mouth and not in his hands. An author’s note explains the true origins of chopsticks, leaving out Compestine’s fabled details. Back matter also includes directions for using chopsticks and a recipe. Burning questions aside, Compestine’s charming tale deserves a place in the multicultural curriculum. Xuan’s richly colored traditional Chinese cut paper illustrations lend authenticity. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8234-1526-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001


ChildrenTHE CHINESE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES by Ying Chang Compestine
by Ying Chang Compestine
ChildrenSECRETS OF THE TERRA-COTTA SOLDIER by Ying Chang Compestine
by Ying Chang Compestine
ChildrenCROUCHING TIGER by Ying Chang Compestine
by Ying Chang Compestine


ChildrenD IS FOR DRAGON DANCE by Ying Chang Compestine
by Ying Chang Compestine
ChildrenTHE STORY OF NOODLES by Ying Chang Compestine
by Ying Chang Compestine
ChildrenTEN SUNS by Eric A. Kimmel
by Eric A. Kimmel