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Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

by Ginnie Lo
Illustrated by Beth Lo

Published by Lee and Low, 2012
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60060-442-3

Ages 7-10

A Sunday drive in the country near Aunie Yang’s northern Illinois home leads to the discovery of soybeans. Soybeans! – mao dou – one of the most important foods in China, but grown for pigs and cows in Illinois. Auntie Yang asks the bemused farmer if she can pick some, and soon she’s boiling the pods in salted water. “Soybeans are the greatest discovery in America!” the young narrator exclaims after popping beans from the pod into her mouth. That meal is the start of a family tradition that grows from year to year and soon includes members of the Chicago Chinese community, who travel to the Illinois countryside to get a taste of home. Eventually, the narrator—now a young woman--meets her aunts and uncles from China, who make the trip for the picnic and, more important, to visit her mother and aunt, who have been longing to see them for decades. Sisters Ginnie and Beth Lo weave a warm, lively story of family, food, culture, and community out of their own memories. A spirited narrative (“In the afternoon the grown-ups continued their endless game of mahjong in the living room while we ran outside to play in the big backyard. I was the leader as we tromped through the high grass with croquet mallets to protect us from any dragons we might meet.”) is paired with singular illustrations combining a distinctive visual style and unusual canvass: ceramic plates. The not-to-miss author’s and illustrator’s note is a brief photo essay about Auntie Yang and the soybean picnic tradition, which lasted for forty years. Highly Commended, 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award (MS) ©2012 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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