Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram,  illustrated by Inéz de Antuñano

Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram,  illustrated by Inéz de Antuñano, recipes by Laurel P. Jackson. Barefoot Books, 2021. 9781646862818

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  In this multinational shoutout to dumplings, ten different households prepare their signature dish to share in one big neighborhood celebration. An Indian family prepares samosas while a Nigerian family makes fufu balls while a Syrian family bakes bourekas and so on. The families don’t always look ethnically homogenous; it’s OK to be a white person in what looks like a Chinese family. There’s also visitors with different skin colors as well as relatives from extended households, single parents, and same-sex couples. One family even has a child who uses orthopedic crutches. It’s cool to see that all the families make something like a dumpling, despite their geographic range. The illustrations have an appealing and hip look, combining watercolor and some digital touches. Each family’s kitchen spreads over two large pages and readers will be able to identify many of the interesting ingredients and tools cluttering the counters, like a pasta machine, a wok, and corn husk wrappers for the tamales. The end of the book features detailed recipes for all the dumplings we’ve admired and lusted after in the book plus a map, showing all the countries represented at the dumpling feast. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? The author has also tried to incorporate a 1-10 counting element into the book, but I found that part confusing. Why are some families contributing many dumplings and others only 1? That doesn’t seem like enough food for all those people!

To whom would you recommend this book?  A cute and successful melding of narrative and cookbook. Full disclosure: the author points out that any child tackling these dumplings will need adult help and supervision. These are not kid-friendly recipes, although I’m sure they’ll enjoy eating the results. 

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: December 19, 2021

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