National Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Kid Lit Review of “Dumpling Soup“ by Jama Kim Rattigan

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.

The author with her Grandma

Product Details
Paperback: 32 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316730475
ISBN-13: 978-0316730471

Rating: 4/5

Published by Little, Brown & Company, 1998

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8 Responses to National Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Kid Lit Review of “Dumpling Soup“ by Jama Kim Rattigan

  1. bookingmama says:

    I love that kids can learn some cultural history as well as some valuable life lessons.

  2. harvee says:

    What a cute book. Love the illustrations. Perfect for Asian American Heritage Month.

  3. Veens says:

    Chop-suey – Awesome! This is such a yummy little book. I am sure, I would love to have this one for my kid when he is older to understand it 🙂

  4. BermudaOnion says:

    What a treasure of a book!

  5. That looks like a sweet story! The dumpling soup sounds good too. 🙂

  6. Staci@LifeintheThumb says:

    I miss reading picture books to my boys!! This one looks amazing!

  7. Dumpling Soup sounds so good..I wish I had someone to give it to!

  8. Ti says:

    Of all the things I miss most with this gluten free diet, dumplings are at the top of the list! I used to make them with my daughter. I still make them but it’s not nearly as fun and now I have to wear gloves. REALLY not fun.

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