Recommended: Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic


“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

Book preview on Publisher’s Website 

Beth Lo’s website

The Valentine's Day Mailbox Mystery


   The morning after Valentine’s Day, I found our garage door opened, and from there, I saw our mailbox door was opened, too. Unusual, but not alarming. So heading out on my morning walk, I planned to close both. That’s when I discovered the package in the mailbox. A Valentine’s gift for me and my husband, Rody. Two Iowa-sized pecan sweet rolls and a handmade card with two sheep. Unsigned.

   "Look what was in our mailbox!” I said to Rody. I put the package on our kitchen counter. “For us. A Valentine.”

   “Who’s it from?” he asked.

    “I don’t know.”

   The weather had changed from wintry cold to warm spring. The morning light bright and yellow. Inviting. I was anxious for my walk and work. And so after slicing  off a sliver of sweetness, I left all my valentines in our sunny kitchen.

   As I walked, our surprise snagged my thinking. Who was this kind soul? Did they know how hard this year has been for us? A list was started as I passed  what just a few months ago was a farm and is now rapidly becoming a  housing development, the first of two on my walk . With each step forward, a new name was added. So many possibilities, so many good kind friends. Anyone of them capable of such thoughtfulness. But why not let us know? We could thank them.

   Walks are an excellent way of figuring out life’s deeper meaning. The longer I walked, the more I  thought about my friends and their generosity, and the more grateful I felt about my life and my community. Another gift. A great one. And not just for me, but for Rody, too.

   Our gift was on the counter, alone in our kitchen. I was out on Rochester Ave, Iowa City, Iowa. Rody was probably in his office, checking emails.

   Gratitude. Had we forgotten how to enjoy a gift?

   With a cell phone,  the day’s direction was altered.

   “Would you start a pot of espresso?” I asked Rody. “I’ll be back soon.”

   Wednesday morning I was late getting to my studio. Relishing the mystery, grateful for our good fortunes and our unexpected morning delight.

   Thank you.


For my Valentines fun, check out STC Craft Blog to see my three funny valentines!