illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
from Barnes & Noble
In this lovely picture book, a young girl named Maggie gets her own pair of chopsticks. Now everyone insists on telling her how to use them. Her grandmother says, “Do it like me!” while she rapidly works her old wooden sticks with a “click-clack-clicketing.” Her sister instructs, “Be graceful like this!” as she crosses her pair “back and forth, like legs, dancing.” But it’s no use. No matter how hard Maggie practices to be like the others, they keep telling her she’s doing it wrong! Frustrated, Maggie asks her cat, the Kitchen God and her ancestors what she should do. Finally, her father gently tells Maggie just what she needs to hear. “Everyone is different. Everyone is unique,” he tells her. “You hold your chopsticks perfectly.”
Author Alan Woo uses a poetic style to tell a timeless story about self-discovery and identity. It offers an inspiring message to young children about the importance of being true to yourself as you navigate the challenges of growing up. The rich illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant add depth to the spare text, capturing the family dynamics between the different personalities and beautifully portraying details of a traditional Chinese New Year gathering. This book is a wonderful resource for social studies lessons on world cultures, particularly on family traditions and celebrations. It makes a perfect read-aloud during classroom observances of Chinese New Year. A few Chinese words are included within the story, with translations and phonetic spellings provided in the front of the book.