Boy Dumplings

Overview

Readers will gobble up this fun-filled tale of a crafty youngster's hilarious efforts to avoid the cooking pot.

Begin with one hungry ghost. Add a plump, delicious-looking boy. Sprinkle in some Chinese folklore and a healthy dash of humor. Now sink your teeth into an exciting story about a ghost eager for his next meal—and a boy who must think fast if he doesn't want to get turned into dumplings. Includes a ...

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Overview

Readers will gobble up this fun-filled tale of a crafty youngster's hilarious efforts to avoid the cooking pot.

Begin with one hungry ghost. Add a plump, delicious-looking boy. Sprinkle in some Chinese folklore and a healthy dash of humor. Now sink your teeth into an exciting story about a ghost eager for his next meal—and a boy who must think fast if he doesn't want to get turned into dumplings. Includes a recipe for (nonboy) dumplings.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A macabre blue phantom ends up a comic foil for an animated, rotund Chinese boy in this tongue-in-cheek ghost story. Reminiscent of the clever rodent in Arnold Lobel’s Mouse Soup, the lively hero (who resembles a young Buddha with hair) outwits his ghost captor and delays his demise by providing an involved recipe for boy dumplings, which sends the ghost traipsing through town to collect rotten onions and wormy cabbage, among other ingredients and supplies. (The boy’s recipe explains, “1. Fill bucket with warm water. Wash boy thoroughly, especially behind ears and between toes. 2. Reserve bath water. Dry boy, massage boy’s feet, and let boy nap.”) Children will delight in the ghost’s gullibility, though younger readers may not fully understand the ruse. Yamasaki’s illustrations of the dim-witted ghost—a cross between Fu Manchu and Nosferatu—can be frightening, but it’s clear the impish boy almost always has the upper hand. Compestine’s (The Real Story of Stone Soup) haunting tale is an entertaining, not-too-scary offering, and an endnote explains some Chinese traditions and beliefs regarding ghosts. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Although an original story, this tale has the feeling and components of a folk tale. Using the basis of the annual Ghost Festival in China (very similar to Halloween in our culture), Ms Compestine has invented an amusing, entertaining adventure featuring a clever, plump boy who is captured by a ghost that usually subsists on garbage. When the supply of garbage is no longer available, the ghost becomes extremely hungry. One dark evening he seizes the boy and takes him home. To trick the ghost, the boy provides him with a recipe for dumplings. The ingredients include 40 pounds of wormy cabbage; 10 pounds of stinky garlic; 50 pounds of rotten onions; 1000 moldy dumpling wrappers; a bottle of soy sauce and one "chubby boy." After giving the boy a bath, which supplies the water for washing the vegetables, the ghost must scour the city for the other fixings needed for the dumplings. Yet again, the boy sends the ghost searching to find a very large steamer and then for fresh spring water. Just as everything seems ready, the sun rises and the ghost is trapped in the boy's chicken lantern. Watercolor and gouache are used to create wonderful illustrations that complement and enhance the humor of the story. Youngsters are certain to enjoy this book, so add it to the first purchase list. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—A hungry ghost with pointed ears and sharp teeth searches the dark streets of Beijing, night after night, in search of food offerings from frightened townspeople. One night, he spies a plump little boy, grabs him, and carries him home, where he pulls out his bucket and chopsticks and prepares to dine. The boy crosses his arms petulantly and demands, "You're not going to eat me raw, are you?" What follows is the familiar theme of an unwilling victim outsmarting his captor and avoiding a terrible fate. While this story takes place in China and the boy suggests that the ghost gather the ingredients to make dumplings out of him, it doesn't really distinguish itself from similar tales. Yamasaki's watercolor and gouache illustrations can be both murky and redundant. Compestine's language is lively and often funny, but verbose. While Boy Dumplings would serve as a good read-aloud for the Ghost Festival (referred to as the "Chinese Halloween" in late August—early September), this theme is better served by books like Arnold Lobel's Mouse Soup (Scholastic, 1977).—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
Kirkus Reviews
When a hungry ghost plucks a plump little boy off the streets of Beijing, he sees supper, but-"You're not going to eat me raw, are you?" demands the boy. The clever boy tells him about boy dumplings, a dish that requires both a bath ("Dry boy, massage boy's feet, and let boy nap") and a plethora of exotic ingredients that forces the ghost out until dawn, at which point the boy captures him in his lantern. Compestine spins out this variant on a classic trickster tale, developing both characters and premise with humor. Yamasaki sets the tale in a Beijing of yore, with cobbled streets and tile-roofed homes. An author's note gives cultural context for this original tale and a recipe for Boy-Free Dumplings. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823419555
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/15/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ying Chang Compestine is the author of many children's books and has appeared on nationally televised programs demonstrating her recipes. A native of Wuhan, China, she now lives in northern California with her family. Her website is www.yingc.com.

James Yamasaki is an illustrator who creates art for book jackets, magazines, and children's books. He teaches at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and lives in Palo Alto, California. Learn more at www.jamesyamasaki.com.

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