Tag Archives: grandmothers

PPBF – Dumplings for Lili

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a super start!

To say that 2021 ended with a bang is a bit of an understatement. From Covid striking 4 of our 7 family members right after Christmas to a mad dash through 110 MPH winds past the Boulder wildfires to the safety of our daughter’s home, and an early return to the east coast, the end of our holidays were not, to say the least, as we’d planned. BUT, we are all safe, recovering, and thankful for being spared the worst of these disasters.

Now, it’s upward and onward, as I scramble to coordinate a move to a rental home I haven’t seen in a part of the country I’ve never visited (Florida, just north of Miami). “Never a dull moment,” so sayeth this Serial Mover!

None of this has anything to do with today’s Perfect Picture Book. But it’s the reason I’m posting this review earlier than originally intended, which was late January, to celebrate Lunar New Year. Thankfully, I thought ahead and wrote it in early December. Hopefully, I’ll carve out a few minutes in the next week or so to write a few more for the month. And if for some reason I don’t post one week (like being buried under boxes or lost along the I-95 corridor), I will be back!

Title: Dumplings for Lili

Written & Illustrated By: Melissa Iwai

Publisher/Date: Norton Young Readers/2021

Suitable for Ages: 6-8

Themes/Topics: dumplings, cooking, grandmothers, sharing, multicultural, intergenerational

Opening:

It’s a special day when Nai Nai says, “Lili, do you want to help me make baos?”

Brief Synopsis: Lili is happy to help her grandmother make baos, but when they lack cabbage for the recipe, Lili is off to visit the many other grandmothers in the building who also lack ingredients for their special dumpling recipes.

Links to Resources:

  • Learn how to make bao with Iwai by watching this YouTube video;
  • Celebrate Lunar New Year, this year on 1 February 2022, with these activities and by making Chinese dumplings;
  • Ask an older relative or friend to share a favorite family recipe, and bake or cook it together.

Why I Like this Book:

In this charming intergenerational picture book, Iwai takes readers on a journey to visit older women of many nationalities as Lili seeks missing ingredients for different types of dumplings. I love how Iwai has chosen one type of food, dumplings, and shows how they vary across culinary traditions. I also love how this community of women help each other by sharing ingredients.

As the story begins, Lili’s Nai Nai invites Lili to help her prepare baos, Chinese dumplings. It’s clear that the two enjoy the process, as the dumpling dough ingredients become “friends”, the filling dances “with joy” in the wok, and the pair have big smiles on their faces. But when the pair lack cabbage to include in the steamer, Lili is off and running to visit the friendly neighbors, each of whom needs to borrow something from someone else for a special recipe.

Readers see the various ethnicities displayed in the many kitchens. Each grandmother bears an ethnically-distinct name, and each prepares a type of dumpling from her culture, including pierogi, fatayer, tamales, ravioli, and beef patties. Interestingly, many of these dishes include foods used by several of the women.

Although all of the back and forth and characters could get confusing, Iwai helpfully includes an illustrated map of Lili’s journey, along with a chart showing the grandmothers and their creations. She also includes a simplified bao recipe within the text and a more detailed version in the back matter.

I won’t spoil the ending by telling you why Lili and Nai Nai were making baos, but you can be sure that there is a celebration involved.

Dumplings for Lili is a perfect choice for classroom and family reading, as it showcases so many cultures and delicious foods, and as it is filled with such joy.

A Note about Craft:

Like a bao recipe, Dumplings for Lili includes so many ingredients that make this a Perfect Picture Book. From the loving and joy-filled relationship of Lili and Nai Nai evident from the text, to the helpful neighbors and the colorful illustrations, Iwai layers the story in a way that showcases Lili’s cultural traditions and shows how several other cultures share similar ingredients and traditions.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – My Grandma and Me

As regular readers know, I love intergenerational stories. And when I find one that showcases the bond between a grandparent and grandchild that also includes a cultural tradition different from my own, you know it’s bound to become a Perfect Picture Book!

 

Title: My Grandma and Me

Written By: Mina Javaherbin

Illustrated By: Lindsey Yankey

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: grandmothers, friendship, Iran, autobiographical, tradition, religion

Opening:

When I was growing up in Iran, my grandma lived with us. I followed her everywhere. When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too.

Brief Synopsis:

In little snippets of her life in Iran, Mina explores the special bond between a granddaughter and grandmother, and the joys that occur in everyday activities.

Links to Resources:

  • What do you enjoy doing with a grandparent or other older family member or friend?
  • This story is based on the author’s childhood in Iran. Learn about Iran;
  • Invite a friend and his or her grandparent to spend time with you and your grandparent. Do you think your activities will be the same as that of the older women or men?
  • Check out the Activity Kit.

Why I Like this Book:

My Grandma and Me provides a window into home life several years ago in Iran, told from the perspective of the narrator, a child. Although many of the activities are particular to the narrator’s experiences with her grandmother, like praying at dawn with a prayer rug or purchasing fresh bread from a delivery boy on a bicycle, the love that is evident between grandparent and child is a universal experience to which children will relate.

I particularly liked the inclusion of Islamic religious practices and the scenes that highlighted the respect and affection for those of different faith traditions. Interestingly, as the narrator played with her friend, their grandmothers knitted blankets together and then “donated them to my grandma’s mosque and Annette’s grandma’s church.” I also love the narrator’s conclusion that even as an adult, she still wants to be just like her grandmother who was “kind, generous, and full of love.” What a wonderful role model she describes!

I think My Grandma and Me will be a terrific conversation starter as parents and children, or perhaps grandparents and grandchildren, read this book together and discover how their lives are similar to those in Iran in the not-too-distant past. I also think this book will appeal to anyone wishing to learn more about the day-to-day practice of Islam and religious tolerance.

The delicate and detailed illustrations in soft colors include lovely Persian details that remind the reader that although the love that shines through the text is universal, the narrator’s story and the relationship with her grandmother are uniquely their own.

A Note about Craft:

Javaherbin utilizes first-person point-of-view to tell this largely autobiographical story. As always, this viewpoint draws readers into the story enabling them to better imagine Mina’s activities with her grandmother and think about the things they do with their own grandparents.

A space motif runs through the story, including a scene with the narrator imagining a flight into space. The book culminates with a comparison between the “big universe full of many moons” and the many wonders in the world, and the all-encompassing love the narrator feels for her grandmother.

Learn more about Iranian-born, US-based Javaherbin. See more of Yankey’s illustrations on her website.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Pairing – of Lively Grandparent Books

Although National Grandparents Day was earlier this fall, I think we should celebrate lively and fun grandparents every day. Don’t you agree?

 

I Love My GlamMa

Author: Samantha Berger

Illustrator: Sujean Rim

Publisher/Date: Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: grandmothers, fashion, family, young at heart

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A celebration of EVERY grandma’s glamorous ways — and the special love that glam-mas share with everything they do!
“Glam-mas don’t just come over… they make a grand entrance!
Glam-mas don’t just celebrate holidays… they celebrate everything!
Glam-mas don’t just carry a purse… they carry a treasure chest!”
A joyful celebration of grandmothers who are young at heart, adventurous, and find a bit of glamour in everything they do. Whether these glam-mas are building sandcastles, riding with dolphins, or turning blankets into reading forts and super capes, they live each day with a playful spirit — just like their grandchildren.
From the writer of Crankenstein and the illustrator of Birdie’s Big-Girl Shoes comes a playful and heartwarming ode to grandmas and grandchildren everywhere… because there’s nothing more glamorous than being a grandma.

Read a review at Grand: Living the Ageless Life.

 

The Truth About Grandparents

Author & Illustrator: Elina Ellis

Publisher/Date: Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: grandparents, family, stereotypes

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In this perfect gift for grandparents and grandchildren alike, a loving child reveals the truth behind assumptions that old people just aren’t any fun.

Grandparents are slow. Grandparents are scared of new things. And grandparents definitely don’t dance — right? A simple, playful storyline that children will love anticipating makes this a perfect read-aloud for modern families to share together. With sly humor and breezy, dynamic artwork in the tradition of Quentin Blake, this book is a fresh celebration of the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because both shatter misperceptions that grandparents are decrepit, boring, old-fashioned, and resist new ideas. These are fun, quick reads that grandparents will enjoy sharing with their grandchildren, either when they visit in person, or perhaps via Skype or Facetime.

For more books about age-defying seniors and positive images of aging in children’s literature, see A is for Aging, B is for Books.