A fun read that explores Japanese culture and culinary history—just don’t expect a literary tour de force.

THE DISCOVERY OF RAMEN

From the Asian Hall of Fame series

A time-traveling red panda gives two American schoolkids a tour of the history of ramen.

In this first installment in the Asian Hall of Fame series, Emma, a girl with brown hair and light brown skin, and Ethan, who appears to be Asian, are on a school field trip when they meet Dao for the first time in a ramen-ya, or ramen restaurant. The talking red panda invites them to discover the history behind this delicious noodle dish, and with a bang on Dao’s gong, all three find themselves in 19th-century Japan, where vendors are selling ramen from pushcarts. After World War II, ramen became even more accessible because an abundance of wheat drove the cost of production down. At a ramen factory, they watch how the noodles are made with salt, eggs, and kansui (alkaline water). Then they travel to the 1950s, when Momofuku Ando invented (and popularized) instant ramen, flash-fried noodles with seasonings already added. Today, 100 billion packages of instant ramen are sold annually, but fresh ramen is rising in popularity again, in the United States and all over the world. Calle’s illustrations are undeniably adorable; cute characters and dynamic scenes elevate the sometimes heavy-handed and confusing text, which too often relies on didactic dialogue to provide the fascinating facts and information.

A fun read that explores Japanese culture and culinary history—just don’t expect a literary tour de force. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59702-134-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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