“First put the whole pod in your mouth, holding the end of it between your fingertips,” Auntie instructed. “Then gently close your lips and pull the pod straight out, sucking all the salty juice.”
Ginnie Lo, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic
The first time I read the Lo sisters' Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic, I was so taken by Ginnie Lo’s storytelling, I didn’t even notice that her sister Beth’s full page illustrations were ceramic plates. I missed obvious clues; the oval shaped images against a light grey background and the plate’s shadow creating a darker grey beneath it. I did catch her subtle and unusual color choices and the vintage feel of her images. There’s a heart beat in every picture, including the spot illustrations that appear on the text pages.
Ginnie Lo’s careful and compassionate tale of her family, immediate and extended, reveals their efforts to stay together in a new and foreign country. Her parents and her aunt and uncle had left China to study in America, but the “political upheaval in China” prevented their return.” Because we understand their loneliness, we triumph with them as they create community. We also learn the significance of soybeans to the Chinese. And so when the family takes a ride in the countryside and happens upon what seems to them a cultural impossibility, soybeans in America, it is a joy appreciated by the reader.
You want more details, right? Of course, you do. So hurry out and get yourself a copy of Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic. Don’t forget to pick some soybeans on the way home. Make sure they are shelled so you can eat them the Aunt Yang way. Even the frozen type will do. You’ll crave them when you are done reading.
Highly Recommended. Starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist and School Library Journal.
Immigration, community, and finding home in a new country,
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic, written by Ginnie Lo and illustrated by Beth Lo