Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A girl helps her "chop suey" (mixed up) family make the dumplings for their traditional New Year's Eve meal, in this slice of Korean-Chinese-Japanese-Hawaiian-Anglo life. "As warm and comforting as homemade soup," said PW. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Yumiko Bendlin
Marisa's family is a big melting pot of people from different cultures. They are Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian or haole (white people, in Hawaiian). Every New Year's Day, they get together and celebrate. It is a family tradition for the women to get together and make dumpling soup. With gossip, jokes and ingredients from different cultures, they wrap little dumplings and make the soup. This year, Marisa joins the circle of women for the first time. But her small hands do not make perfectly shaped dumplings. When no one scoops her odd shaped dumplings and the other children makes fun of them, Grandma scoops a few and takes a big bite. When she announces that they are just as delicious as the others, Marisa beams with confidence. A cheerful and wonderful story of cultural values, tradition and family. It provides a recipe for the soup at the end of the story, and would be great for children from all cultures to try making the "perfect" shaped dumplings.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
7-year-old Marisa's aunties are experts at making dumplings, but grandma is the master who guides their progress. Her aunties' dumplings are wrapped with style, but Marisa's are lumpy. Will anyone eat them? Grandma assures her that dumplings are like her family, a spicy blending of ingredients, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, and haole [Hawaiian for white people]. Their wrappings may be different but inside they are rich, loving, and very tasty. The pictures depict the island setting with its lush flowers and plants. Since it is New Years, the air is filled with the crackling of firecrackers.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
There's rollicking adventure here at a big family reunion when celebration and circumstance collide. A young Hawaiian girl learns to appreciate the ethnic differences at her family's New Year's celebration.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A large, loving Hawaiian family gathers to celebrate the new year with Marisa making mandoo, or dumplings, a traditional holiday feast. Told from the seven-year-old child's breathless point of view, the event is also a tribute to diversity. The Yang family, like much of the population of Hawaii, includes members of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and haole (white) descent. And everyone loves mandoo, especially the funny-looking ones that Marisa makes. Though the text is low-key, the characters and their affection for one another are infectious. Cluttered, lively, full-color illustrations in a style reminiscent of Marylin Hafner's work are packed with detail and children. Domestic groupings of all sorts will keep young eyes busy trying to identify which cousin is which. The pages are so full of activity that they often bleed entirely off the page. Any child who loves family gatherings will identify with this book, and teachers will welcome it for its inclusive approach. Though lengthy to read to a young group, the story will be relished by older primary-aged children for reading aloud and by independent readers, too.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA