Thank you! Teachers and Librarians. Here I’m sharing with you a new picture book reading list about food and people coming together. It’s inspired by the way A Feast for Joseph has been received as a book that brings happiness around cooking and sharing delicious food. Below are links to more book lists about newcomer kids and food. Happy New Year. Here’s to maybe a tiny new beginning and who knows where that could lead.
Feast! A Reading List of Picture Books about Food and Friends Across Cultures
EVERY NIGHT IS PIZZA NIGHT by Jenji López-Alt, illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero, Norton Young Readers, 2020.
Pizza is “the BEST. This is a scientific fact,” Pipo proclaims. But to investigate her science, she surveys dishes her neighbors are cooking. When a neighbor invites her to taste bibimbap, she says, “I do not need it. I do not want it. But I will try it. For science.” She actually loves it. And so it goes through visits to families in the neighborhood, trying tagine, red beans and rice, dumplings from the food truck, spicy green pozole soup. Then Pipo has to think a lot about what her neighbors love what best might really mean.
FOOD TRUCK FEST! by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Mike Dutton, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018
The story follows the food truck cooks and one hungry family racing to eat at the festival of foods. “Let’s get moving. No time to rest. Everybody’s going to the food truck fest.” In New York City, the food trucks circle round. “Kimchi tacos, that’s no illusion, Korean and Mexican make a tasty fusion.” Ah but there’s more, Belgian waffles, kebabs, crab roll, shrimp, Vietnamese Pho Sho, Texas Brisket. A fusion of cultures and delicious foods.
GOING UP by Sherry J. Lee, illustrated by Charlene Chua, Kids Can Press, 2020
A little girl is invited to go to a birthday party on the 10th floor of her apartment building. The story is about the ride up on the elevator and all the people from many parts of the world and walks of life who get on the elevator with their many foods, clothes, animals. And who’s birthday? That’s a surprise.
LET ME FIX YOU A PLATE: A Tale of Two Kitchens By Elizabeth Lilly. Holiday House, 2021
A family goes on a road trip, first to visit Mamaw and Pawpaw’s house in the mountains of West Virginia where they eat banana pudding and blackberry jam and sausages. Then they drive “forever” to the other grandparents in Florida, Abuela and Abuelo, where they eat corn flour cakes, arepas with queso blanco, naranjas from the trees. A honest, delightful story to capture moms and dads and kids in their individuality andof cultures coming together as family.
THANK YOU, OMU! By Oge Mora, Little Brown, 2018
A gorgeous story told in bright collages of a cook who is so amazing that people in the neighborhood find their way to her door. The people are of all colors, all jobs. Even the hot dog vendor comes. They love the scent of Omu’s stew. When they arrive at her door, she offers them a taste. “A doctor, an actor, a lawyer, a dancer.” Pretty soon she doesn’t have enough left for her supper, but an act of generosity follows. Oge Mora came to the U.S. from Nigeri; the name Omu in the Igbo language means “queen.”
A FEAST FOR JOSEPH by Terry Farish and OD Bonny, illustrated by Ken Daley, Groundwood Books, 2021
I’ll end with OD’s and my new picture book. I guess it captures my Jane Jacobs desire to bring people together. Joseph, born in Uganda, pulls off a feast in Maine where he now lives. To have a feast is his heart’s desire. He invites a little girl who lives upstairs and her mom who was born in the Dominican Republic. Between Joseph’s traditional food of kwon and dek ngor and Whoosh’s tres leches cake, the neighbors make friends.
A Few More Diverse Reading Lists to Pass On
Warm wishes to you in 2022.
A doll representing Joseph in Joseph’s Big Ride and A Feast for Joseph is available to visit schools. Here’s a story of his visit to Mill Brook School in Concord, NH. He visited k-1 classes.
Dear Children at Mill Brook,
I understand that a small doll named Joseph has been visiting your class, and that sometimes your teacher has let him come to story time. I hope he has not been disruptive. Can you teach him to listen? And while you’re at it, would you mind teaching him to read? He likes stories and is very smart. But sometimes he can get up to mischief. Ms. Morin did send me this snap.
You may be wondering about Joseph’s clothes. He has a friend named Grammie Rose and she sewed them for him. Joseph is exactly 17 inches tall, and Grammie specializes is clothes for 17-inch tall boys. She sewed them so he would have the same red shirt as the Joseph in Joseph’s Big Ride. Ms. Morin also sent a snap of a boy right there at Mill Brook who also has a handsome red shirt.
Another friend of Joseph’s, Jeanne Trabulsi, recommended that Joseph get a hair cut. But when I saw Joseph with a boy in another snap from Mill Brook, I thought both of them had perfect hair.
Thank you for helping Joseph settle in. The holidays might have caused a bit of chaos and certainly hope Joseph didn’t get anybody into trouble or disturb Ms. Giddis. I see she had to keep him close to keep her eye on him.
Here’s a little of Joseph’s story before he visited Mill Brook. He came from Virginia. I mentioned his friend Jeanne. Jeanne Trabulsi moved to Virginia from Lebanon, a country far away and near the country of Syria. After Jeanne made her home in the U.S., she wanted to welcome kids who were not safe in their home countries and had moved to the U.S. where there was food and safety and schools where they could learn. So she created the
Refugee Doll Project to create dolls to welcome the children. She has created refugee dolls from many countries.
The very grown up first graders listen beautifully at Ms. Mac Dougall’s story time. I hope Joseph will come home a good listener, but maybe you also taught him his times tables.
Thank you for taking good care of Jospeh!
From your friend,
Author Terry Farish reflects on the collaboration process for A Feast for Joseph with writing partner OD Bonny and gets insights from other authors and illustrators who have also collaborated on children’s books.
This is also a reading essay about books by contemporary children’s book authors who are writing collaboratively, often from different cultural perspectives. Writers include Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan (A Place at the Table), Charles Waters and Irene Latham (Can I Touch Your Hair), Susan Hood and Pathana Sornhiran (Titan and the Wild Boars: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team), Louisa Jaggar and Shari Becker (Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States), Anne Sibley O’Brien and Reza Jalali (Moon Watchers) and OD Bonny and Me (A Feast for Joseph). We describe our processes which are each quite different.
Here are resources to find diverse books. They are searchable by ethnicity, community, and age range.
Diverse Book Finder: https://diversebookfinder.org/
Go to ‘search the collection’ and you will find many criteria to search by.
I’m Your Neighbor Books: https://imyourneighborbooks.org/
Go to Books and you can browse by community or theme.
We Need Diverse Books: https://diversebooks.org/
Advocacy, mentoring, marketing of books by diverse writers. Many resources.
KidLit411: http://www.kidlit411.com/2013/12/kidlit411-diversity-in-kidlit.html Many links to resources, nonprofits, publishers, articles, and more on diverse lit
“Intercultural Author Collaboration” Here is article I wrote for School Library Journal on intercultural author collaboration, including interviews with authors on their process of writing together: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=intercultural-author-collaboration
Publishers of diverse books
Groundwood Books in Toronto
Salaam Reads an imprint of Simon and Schuster
Lee and Low, Multicultural Children’s Books Publisher
Enchanted Lion does many translated books to bring international books to U.S. readers
Many more are listed at KidLit411.com