“Readers will feel a kinship with the young cousins, who are isolated at first, but soon become the center of an annual tradition.” —Booklist
Jinyi and her sister love visiting Auntie and Uncle Yang’s home, where they enjoy dumpling-eating contests and backyard adventures with their cousins. One weekend, on a Sunday drive among the cornfields near Chicago, Auntie Yang spots something she has never before seen in Illinois. Could it be one of their favorite Chinese foods—soybeans?!
Excited by their discovery, the families have their very first soybean picnic. Every year after that, Auntie Yang invites more people to share the food and fun. Pretty soon more than two hundred friends and neighbors are gathering at the picnic to play games and eat soybeans together.
Unique illustrations painted on ceramic plates lend a quirky charm to this lighthearted intergenerational story. Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic is a delicious celebration of family traditions, culture, and community that will have readers asking for seconds, thirds, and more.
Reviews & Accolades
“Ginnie Lo draws on her own memories to share a sunny tale about the value of family and community…Adding fullness to the narrative, wonderfully appropriate to the content, and paying homage to China’s rich art history, Beth Lo’s series of hand-painted porcelain plates serve as the book’s illustrations. The soft, rounded compositions and earthy shades create feelings of easy comfort and warmth, and are a joy to behold…This is a stellar title that will rest comfortably next to acclaimed picture-book memoirs by Allen Say, Peter Sís, and Uri Shulevitz.” —Anna Haase Krueger, School Library Journal
“The treasured weekend visits with Auntie and Uncle Yang that help an immigrant family cope with feelings of isolation take on a new wrinkle when Auntie Yang spots a field of soybeans on a Sunday drive…The simply drawn scenes of busy, festive groups reflect the narrative’s happy tone, and they are capped with old snapshots from past gatherings in the afterword. The pleasure of finding unexpected links between a new country and the old suffuses this autobiographical outing.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The story, based on the Lo family’s own history…rings with the authenticity of a beloved family tale, and the dialogue is homey and familiar; the story’s trajectory from soybean encounter to pleasant picnic pastime to huge event is narratively satisfying, and the underlying message of food as a way of connecting families is subtle yet matter-of-fact. Beth Lo, a ceramic artist, provides the unique art, in which ceramic plates are painted with images from the story and then photographed. . . . The layouts are identical throughout, and the eye is drawn to the object as much as to the scenes depicted on it; the colors are cheerful and the details abundant in the scenes, though, and listeners will likely want a closer look when storytime is through.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Historical fiction, at its best, makes the specific universal…This heartfelt story (based on the authors’ childhoods) is absolutely delicious. Readers will feel a kinship with the young cousins, who are isolated at first, but soon become the center of an annual tradition. Adding an extra layer of charm to the story is the unique artwork. Beth Lo is a ceramic artist, and she painted the illustrations on plates that fill the pages. The winsome pictures, drawn with a childlike charm, capture the warmth of family, friendship, and food. The afterword, with photos, is a bonus.” —Booklist
Celebration, family, memories, immigration, family tradition
Ginnie Lo was inspired for this work by her Auntie Yang and their combined families. She used her own memories from her childhood and had conversations with family members, including Auntie Yang, about their memories of the soybean picnics. Ginnie also looked through family albums for pictures from the soybean picnics as she wrote the story. In addition, she did some outside research about the history of soybeans. For the pinyin (the system of writing Chinese words in English) that were used in the book, she consulted a professor at the University of Oregon, because since she grew up in the US, “her Chinese reading and writing skills are not great.” She had a wonderful Chinese-American childhood that she wanted to share through a children’s book. Her sister Beth Lo researched images of planes, furniture and cars from the 1950s for her illustrations.
VISIT Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic website for events and more information about soybeans, including recipes
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