Dumplings for Lili

by Melissa Iwai (Author)

Dumplings for Lili
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Lili loves to cook baos, and Nai Nai has taught her all the secrets to making them, from kneading the dough lovingly and firmly to being thankful for the strong and healthy ingredients in the filling. But when Nai Nai realizes that they are out of cabbage (Secret #8: line the basket with cabbage leaves!), she sends Lili up to Babcia's apartment on the sixth floor to get some. Babcia is happy to share her cabbage, but she needs some potatoes for her pierogi. . . .What follows is a race up and down the stairs as Lili helps all the grandmothers in her building borrow ingredients for different dumplings: Jamaican beef patties, Italian ravioli, Lebanese fatayer, and more. Energized by Melissa Iwai's engaging artwork and kinetic storytelling, Dumplings for Lili is a joyful story of sharing food, friendship, and love in all their forms.
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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Chinese youngster Lili is thrilled when her Nai Nai asks if she wants to help make bao. But when Nai Nai realizes they're out of cabbage, she sends Lili--and Shiba Inu Kiki--to request some from Babcia, a blue-eyed, white-haired grandmother making pierogi on the building's sixth floor. Babcia happily hands over a head--but then asks Lili to get potatoes from Granma, a Black grandmother with periwinkle spectacles on the second floor who's making Jamaican beef patties. In this way, Lili's relay continues as she requests and delivers dumpling ingredients for six grandmothers. Author-illustrator Iwai's prose is approachable and heartwarming; in one spread, she advises readers to let bao dough "take a catnap in a warm place while you make the filling." The art is similarly friendly, punctuated by speech bubbles. A resonant portrait of intergenerational care, and a toothsome celebration of how food unites a multicultural community. Back matter includes a bao recipe. Ages 6-8. (June)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Melissa Iwai
Melissa Iwai has illustrated many children's books, including Toolbox Twins, B Is for Bulldozer, and Good Night Engines. Soup Day is the first book she has both written and illustrated. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and young son, Jamie (who loves to cook with his mom!).
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Norton Young Readers
Publication date
June 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV050000 - Juvenile Fiction | Cooking & Food
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Chinese Americans

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