Book review, Received for Review

Brandon Makes Jiao Zi by Eugenia Chu


Format: eBook (Kindle) brandon-min.JPG

Length: 27 pages

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Date of Publication: 27th June, 2017

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I love reading children’s books. They have a sense of innocence about them that is sorely lacking in every other genre. I have previously reviewed Great Grandma Joins the Circus, Police Officer Penny, Operation Pied PiperThe Adventures of Tootsie Lama, and Bill the Jungle Octopus and loved them all.

When I saw on a Facebook group that Eugenia Chu has a book for children, I asked to review it.

The Blurb

Mommy surprises Brandon with his grandma from China, Po Po (婆婆), when she picks him up from school one day. When they get home, the adventure begins! While Brandon and Po Po (婆婆) are making Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi (餃子), Brandon makes a mess and he and Po Po (婆婆) have a good laugh! They chat and bond over the experience. Then Brandon eats and eats and eats and makes a surprise at the end that delights the whole family! This adorable story includes some conversational Mandarin Chinese (including Pinyin – pronunciation) and is written the way a real Chinese grandmother and her Chinese-American grandson would speak with each other. It is a fun read for families with children who are learning, or are interested in, Mandarin or Chinese culture.

The Book

The book begins with an introduction to the intricacies of Mandarin Chinese, the various characters and symbols and how they are spelled and pronounced in Pinyin. It made me go on YouTube and search for the right pronunciation of words. Anything that makes me want to go and research more on it is a win in my books. The book also has a glossary in the end for the reader’s reference.

The story centers around Brandon who is ecstatic that his Grandmother (Po Po) is visiting him. They get together to make dumplings or Jiao Zi which Brandon loves. We are treated to both the English and Chinese variants for words. The sentences are written first in one language and then in another so as to familiarize the reader with various expressions. The family dynamics were sweet and the Chinese-American characters could be a point of reference to the many children who do not find books that are inclusive of the Asian culture in everyday literature.

It is a simple story that is beautifully illustrated by Helena Chu Ho. The repetition of sentences and words are sure to be useful to new learners of the language. I was glad that the author saw the lacunae in literature and took matters into her own hands and came up with a creative solution. I wish that there were such books in the various regional languages of India to help young readers familiarize themselves with their native tongue.

The Author

Eugenia Chu is an attorney, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer. She is a first generation Chinese-American citizen and lives in Miami Beach with her husband and son, Brandon, who is the inspiration for her stories.  When Brandon was very little, the author couldn’t find children’s storybooks to read to him which touched upon Chinese culture and which included some Chinese (Mandarin) words to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary, so she started writing her own.

TL;DR: A short read that is sure to capture the hearts of any reader who yearns for the representation of varied culture and heritage in literature

What languages do you speak?

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