“Making the perfect bao is both a tasty endeavor and a way to connect with family and share family heritage”
Her parents make perfect bao. Her grandmother makes perfect bao. But Amy Wu does not make perfect bao. Among other imperfections, hers either are not filled with enough seasoned meat or are filled so full they spill open. But today, Amy is determined to make the perfect bao. Zhang skillfully leads readers through the bao making process, which “is an all-day event” that involves multiple steps—mixing, kneading, stuffing, steaming—while Chua visually narrates the process with bright and humorous digital illustrations. Together, they create a story with more than a few things to admire. One is Amy’s determination and perceptive problem-solving. When failure in her quest seems imminent and she’s about to accept defeat, she realizes that the bao making process needs to be adjusted to better suit her youthful hands. Second, even when Amy does succeed in making the perfect bao and is proud of the accomplishment, she realizes that an imperfect bao can taste just as good as a perfect bao. Third, readers are shown that working side by side with family and sharing family traditions, culture, and heritage is rewarding and important. The inclusion of pronunciation guidance for “bao” will be appreciated by unfamiliar readers, as will the recipe for making the perfect bao for those curious or hungry for the tasty dish after reading about Amy and her family.
Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional—the former have better souvenirs, but the latter allow for dragons, so it’s a tough pick. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, she now spends her free time scribbling poetry, taking photographs, and climbing atop things she shouldn’t. You can learn about her travels, literary and otherwise, at KatZhang.com.
Charlene Chua grew up in Singapore, where she divided her time between drawing, reading comics and failing her Mandarin classes. She has worked with clients from Canada, USA, Europe, Singapore and Australia on a wide variety of illustration projects. Charlene lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her husband and their two cats. For more information, visit www.charlenechua.com.
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