WOW Review: Volume XV, Issue 4

Introduction and Editors’ Note

When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles…

This excerpt from the poem “The Traveling Onion” by Naomi Shihab Nye (1995) captures the nuances of this issue of books that provide global perspectives on food. In one way or another these books reference how food and family cooking practices travel across time and distance, creating and sharing small miracles that have kept people together for generations.

Some of the books in this collection highlight the role of food in creating or maintaining family traditions. For example, Maribel’s Year reflects on family practices around food as Maribel moves from the Philippines to a new home. Maribel and her father remember pinakbet, Papa’s favorite dish, avocado shakes in the summer, buko ‘uice around September, and dried mangoes and tamarinds from Lolo’s farm. Similarly, Granny’s Kitchen describes Shelly-Ann’s journey in learning how to cook Jamaican dishes as she moves from not feeling very comfortable about her cooking skills to trusting herself to prepare a delicious Jamaican breakfast. Offering a broader and deeper look into how fry bread has shaped family traditions in Indigenous families and communities, Fry Bread invites readers to think about food as shape, sound, color, flavor… but also time, history, place, and nation… because “FRY BREAD IS EVERYTHING.”

Other titles explore the power of food to bring cultures together and to expand identities. When Korean American Roy from Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix finished high school, he realized that he always felt at home in the kitchen. But he wasn’t interested in feeding movie stars in fancy places; instead, he wanted to reach people who walk the streets and worn-out neighborhoods of L.A. He fed them Korean Mexican mixed dishes cooked with sohn-maash and love. Also representing the Asian American communities, Measuring Up tells the story of Cici who recently moved to Seattle from Taiwan. Cici misses her A-ma and enters a cooking contest in hopes to win the grand prize that will allow A-ma to visit her. Unsure about how to cook a range of American food, Cici pulls from her knowledge about Taiwanese cuisine and creates a delicious lavender-inspired dish. Also set in the United States, Let Me Fix You a Plate describes a biracial family that vacations in the mountains of West Virginia to visit Mamaw and Papaw, and then drives south to spend time with Abuelo y Abuela in Florida. At Mamaw’s house the family enjoys sausages, blackberry jam on toast, vanilla waffle cookies, and banana pudding. In Abuela’s kitchen the family shares tostones, arroz, arepas, flan, and queso blanco.

The last two picturebooks introduce the idea that food can lead to adventures! For example, in Juna’s Jar, “Juna’s family always had a large jar of kimchi in their fridge.” Once the jar is empty, Juna uses it to inquire about the natural world with her best friend Hector. When Hector moves away, she relies on her older brother Minho and her empty jar to learn a way to remember Hector, while also opening her heart to new friends. Likewise, Luli, in Luli and the Language of Tea, discovers that while none of her preschool peers share the same language, they all can talk, play, share, drink tea… and eat cookies! While this last title elicits conversations around food and biculturalism, the playful tone of the written and visual text suggests to us that the children see the tea party as an opportunity for adventure.

Please consider submitting a review for our future issues. The editors welcome reviews of children’s or young adult books that highlight intercultural understanding and global perspectives around these themes:

Volume 16, Issue 1 – Open theme (Fall 2023) – submission deadline: September 30, 2023. The editors welcome reviews of global or multicultural children’s or young adult books published within the last three years that highlight intercultural understanding and global perspectives.

Volume 16, Issue 2 – Themed issue on multicultural or global biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and/or fictionalized biographies (Winter 2023) – submission deadline November 15, 2023. The editors welcome reviews of global or multicultural children’s or young adult books published within the last three years that highlight multicultural or global biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and/or fictionalized biographies.

María V. Acevedo-Aquino, co-editor

Susan Corapi, co-editor

© 2023 by María V. Acevedo-Aquino and Susan Corapi

Creative Commons License

Authors retain copyright over the vignettes published in this journal and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under the following Creative Commons License:

WOW Review, Volume XV, Issue 4 by Worlds of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on work by María V. Acevedo-Aquino and Susan Corapi at

WOW review: reading across cultures
ISSN 2577-0527