This mouth-watering story is told by Marisa Yang, a little Asian-American girl of mixed heritage living in Hawaii. Her family, which gets together each New Year’s Eve for dumpling soup at her Grandma’s, include Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiians. Her grandma calls her family “chop suey,” which means “all mixed up.”
Since Marisa is 7 now, she gets to help make the dumplings, but hers turn out “funny-looking.” She feels quite insecure about it, until members of the family declare that hers taste delicious. She muses:
“I think about how much everyone liked the dumpling soup. Even my funny dumplings. Maybe it was because we ate them at Grandma’s, all of us together.”
In the course of the story, we also learn about food from the other traditions in this eclectic family. A glossary, including pronunciations, is at the front of the book, which is very helpful since most glossaries are at the back where readers may not even realize they are included.
The illustrations by Lillian Hsu-Flanders capture the lovely colors of the Hawaiian landscape and diversity of the culture.
As a special bonus, on her web site the author features the “YANG FAMILY DUMPLING SOUP RECIPE.” We also learn that the book is based on the author’s own childhood experiences of celebrating New Year’s in Hawaii, and that all the main characters are based on real people from her family.
Paperback: 32 pages
Published by Little, Brown & Company, 1998