Twelve year old Cici loved her life back in Taiwan, especially the time she spent with her grandmother, or A-má. But when her family moves to Seattle so she can have better opportunities she has to leave her grandmother and friend behind.
It’s difficult and she has the usual problems fitting in at school, she quickly makes friends. Though she’s not sure how much of her Taiwanese life to show them.
Now she only needs one thing to make her happy being with her A-má on her seventieth birthday. It doesn’t seem possible. It’s too much money for them all to visit her, but Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There is just one problem Cici only knows how to cook the Taiwanese food she learned with her grandmother.
But after her pickled cucumber is mocked at lunch she is determinted to learn to cook the American way by channeling her inner Juila Child? Through cooking can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite A-má, while also showing both sides of her new self.
This is Lily LaMotte’s debut graphic novel.
Illustrator An Xu an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator working in Baltimore.
Because I’m a very amature baker I love books about food and this one brought the recipes to life. I also loved the friendship Cici has with someone in the competition and how food was used as bridge between her old life in Taiwan and her new life in American.
I also loved the result when the judges mocked Cici’s final meal then tasted it. Another favorite scene of mine is when she finally brought her friends to her house.
Overall this is just a sweet book with an important message about culture. Whether it’s the fact that American often lump cultures together or the struggle of immigrants to find to right mix of being their home culture and “American” this book covers it with a deft hand while still making a sweet story.