Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (Amy Wu #1)

by Kat Zhang (Author) Charlene Chua (Illustrator)

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (Amy Wu #1)
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
Series: Amy Wu

Meet the funny, fierce, and fearless Amy Wu, who is determined to make a perfect bao bun today. Can she rise to the occasion? Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keep coming out all wrong. Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance...Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?

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Publishers Weekly

In this tasty story of tenacity and ingenuity, everyone in the family can make perfect bao except for Amy. Hers are "too empty or too fat. They have holes them. They leak." Amy is good at many other things, Zhang assures readers, and bao making can't be too far beyond her grasp--especially since her parents and grandmother are happy to dedicate a day to helping. But perfection continues to elude the increasingly frazzled child, until she figures out how to hack the process by using smaller dough circles ("Amy-size"), which yield flawless bao that "are soft and fluffy and so, so delicious." Chua's bright-eyed protagonist is winning from the start, and the book's jaunty pacing, sparkly palette, and visual directness are reminiscent of a classic animated cartoon short. A bao recipe concludes, as does a revelation that "not-so-perfect bao" taste just as a good as their tidy counterparts. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2-Amy loves "soft and fluffy and so, so delicious" bao. She can (and sometimes does) eat them nonstop. Making bao is an all-day affair with Dad making the dough, Mom seasoning the meat, and everyone putting them together. Mom and Dad and Grandma make perfect bao, but Amy cannot do it--hers are too big or too small, have too much stuffing or not enough, or just plain fall apart. (At least they still taste good.) After another frustrating bao-making day, Amy has an idea to fix the problem. Adults readers take note--her solution will also work for young readers who want to try the recipe included in the back. Chua's brightly colored full-page digital illustrations capture Amy's exuberant approach to life and her bao-making despair. Font size changes, coupled bolded words and phrases, add even more pep to Zhang's spirited text that's sure to please storytime and one-on-one audiences. Those who aren't already bao connoisseurs will understand the childhood frustration of struggling with a much-desired skill. VERDICT A delightful story about a determined girl not letting her age and size keep her from mastering a delicious talent. Be prepared for hungry readers.-Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Upbeat...This is a book to get creative juices flowing." —The New York Times

"This sweet book both encourages cooking together as a family and rewards creative problem-solving." —Food Network Blog

"Children will relate to this readaloud if they've ever faced a situation when emulating adults failed, but Amy's triumph is sure to inspire them to try again." —BCCB

Kat Zhang
Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional--the former have better souvenirs, but the latter allow for dragons, so it's a tough choice. A writer of books for teens and children, she spends her free time scribbling poetry, taking photographs, and climbing atop things she shouldn't. You can learn more about her at

Charlene Chua draws many things, from baos to dragons, and everything in-between. When they are not drawing, they enjoy cooking, reading, and playing with their cats. Charlene grew up in Singapore, and now lives in Canada. Her favorite baos are still char siu baos, and her favorite dumplings are air-fryer wontons!

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2019
Amy Wu

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