Dumplings in Taiwan

Dumpling Days
by Grace Lin is a happy intermediate level children's book and an informative one. Pacy Lin's parents have decided to spend a month of the upcoming summer taking her and her two sisters to Taiwan to meet family and learn of their heritage. This is not good news. The girls had other plans.

The plane ride where they are forced to wear matching hot pink jumpers lasts forever and they do not know the language or the customs of the place when they arrive. And the jet lag and news that they will be attending classes makes them cranky. But the warm welcome by loving family members and celebrations at one restaurant after another seem to smooth and comfort things. Pacy loves dumplings, even if the chopsticks are a challenge. "There was no day that dumplings couldn't make better."

Pacy and her sisters Lissy and Ki-Ki are not always sweet and obedient. Middle sister Pacy is known to complain, quarrel with her sisters, or say the wrong thing. The art class that she knew she would love becomes tortuous after day after day of just painting bamboo and sitting by the perfect Audrey, who lords it over her.

But their adventures are many: the markets, the fortune teller, Lissy's photo shoot, the opera, Ghost month, temples, new food experiences, such as a pot of eels. They take the train to the country village of Taichung, much different than modern Taipei. When there are difficulties, there is always extended family nearby who help and understand. And of course the end of the month leaves them sad to leave after all.

This book is clearly autobiographical. Grace Lin captures her childhood perfectly and sprinkles her own clever drawings throughout the book. Lin is the author and illustrator of the Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, more of a magical fairy tale, and then The Year of the Dog and the Year of the Rat, which introduce Pacy's story before Dumpling Days. Visit her website for more information.

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