Jojo Eats Dim Sum by James Kye [picture book, ages 3-9]
This delightful picture book reminds me of Lauren Child’s charming collage illustrations in her Charlie and Lola series. Like Charlie and Lola, James Kye mixes cartoon illustrations with photographs to stunning effect. The characters are drawn as cartoons and manage to convey their very big personalities. Jo Jo is Caucasian but her favorite meal in the world is Dim Sum. Her little brother Ollie prefers pea soup. Jo Jo’s parents are pretty relaxed which is a nice contrast to the Chinese waiter who manages to be both aloof and efficient like all Chinese waiters that I’ve ever met are.
I remember dragging my kids to Dim Sum in Boston’s Chinatown. My husband and I had scouted out all the restaurants pre-kids before discovering our favorite one, China Pearl. They have two floors of rolly cart action, and the sing song hustle and bustle of the huge restaurant nicely drowns out any bad behavior of my children including whining that they don’t like the food. Fast forward a few years and you will now find my children chanting a little ditty titled: Dim Sum Yum Yum. I’m not sure how this turnaround happened, but I don’t argue. Going to Dim Sum is one of our favorite weekend activities. We like how it’s so fast. One minute you are starving and15 minutes later, you are stuffed to the gills.
It was precisely the food that Kye featured that turned my kids around on Dim Sum. Steamed pork buns, a.k.a. Cha Xiu Bao, is the ONLY thing my 6-year-old son will eat there if you don’t count the noodles that I have to scrape off of the “offensive” meat filling. My girls and husband love Siu Mai (the shrimp dumplings) , the noodles, and the mango pudding. But it is only I that can eat the chicken feet that Jojo also adores. She earns the admiration and astonishment of her otherwise brusque push cart lady by ordering it and relishing it. Me? I get only disgusted looks by my kids and the occasional, “Eeeuh, that’s so gross.”
“More for me!” is my reply! I should eat with Jojo instead. In fact, this book gives you the feeling of dining with them. It turns out that both My husband and I and Jojo and her parents enjoy Har Gao. The only downside is this: it makes you really, really hungry for Dim Sum. In fact, I have to sign off now because I have to rouse my kids to get them out the door. If we arrive later than 10:30 a.m., our Dim Sum restaurant is packed!
This is James Kye’s first book, and truly, I am hungry for more. It appears that Jojo could be a series as she is an adventurous eater! Stay tuned for more!
p.s. Other Asian American picture books about Asian food that we like include:
p.p.s. What is your favorite Asian American picture book with a food theme? Please share and I’ll add to this list!
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