Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

I am honored to participate again in this wonderful event as a book reviewer for "Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup" by Pamela Mayer with illustrations by Deborah Melmon, published in 2016. 

Jill Colella, marketing and website manager from Kar-Ben Publishing, sent me the book. Kar-Ben Publishing is the largest publisher of Jewish-themed picture books for children in the world. I was surprised to learn the publishing company is located right in my home state of Minnesota in Minneapolis.   
This picture book is targeted for ages 4-8 audience. It is the story of two grandmas, each with their own delicious chicken soup recipe and one granddaughter named Sophie. She inadvertently triggers a culture clash between the two grandmas, one is Jewish and one is Chinese. The story is about blending two cultures and coming up with just the perfect solution. The grandmothers, Bubbe and Nai Nai, are miffed when Sophie calls the dumplings in each of their soups by the wrong terminology. The grandmothers are quick to point out the differences between kreplach and wonton dumplings added to the soup's broth. Sophie realizes that she needs to come up with a plan to show her grandmas how good a mixture of a "little Jewish" and "a little Chinese"can be much like her family, a blend of cultures.

One of the things I liked about the story was Sophie was able to come up with a blended soup solution that made both grandmas happy and she included her parents in the brainstorming session. In the process each grandma realizes they could learn from one another. Since the story provided information about different cultures which promotes diversity, it's great for story time at home and perfect for schools or preschools who want to teach their pupils about different cultures and that there isn’t a “one and only” way to see or do things. As a former classroom teacher I noted the author was quite savvy providing a link to a curriculum guide with enriching classroom activities directed to the book usage, discussion questions and how the book fits in with common core state standards. Teachers so appreciate having readily available access to these type of materials.

So I saved one of the best things of the book to last. On the last two pages of the book are recipes for chicken soup, Bubbe's Kreplach and Nai Nai's Wontons, family recipes supplied by the author. Enjoy this bowl of blended soup from two cultures made with one special ingredient love, provided by the grandmothers and Sophie.
I would be remiss not to mention Deborah Melmon's detailed illustrations which compliment the text. There is so much  detail on each page lending itself to wonderful discussions. The illustrations  show differences in facial features and dress without stereotyping. The characters' facial expressions are fun and playful. Children will easily relate to the story.  I loved how playful the grandmothers were depicted after they enjoyed soup with Sophie. One grandma liked to play dress up with her and the other grandma liked to paint pictures. 
Check out Deborah's website and enjoy other examples of her work. Deborah Melmon 

Learn more about author Pamela Mayer, her published books, author visits and read her blog postings at Pamela Mayer
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that. 
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O'Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:


  1. Thanks for introducing me to a Minnesota book publisher of which I was unaware and for the wonderful book review.

  2. What a wonderfully unique book! Thank you for such an indepth review and I am thrilled that there are recipes involved as well. Good job! #readyourworld

  3. I love this mixed race premise and it works for me because though my kids are not half Jewish and Chinese they are Chinese/Japanese/Korean American. We have the same mixed up terminology for dumplings! Thanks so much for joining us for Multicultural Children's Book DAy! We so appreciate you!

  4. We reviewed this book for MCBD, too! Such a super fun one, and your soup looks amazing!