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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.

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Click here to sign up. If you have already signed up, here is the April-June linky where you can link up your reviews or updates from your reading list. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Julian Sedgwick’s Mysterium: The Palace of Mystery to two lucky CORL participants from April-June. So link up your posts now!

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.

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These two picturebooks that I borrowed from the NIE Library are a perfect fit for our current reading theme as they are not only Asian-themed, they are also about food! Makan!

IMG_3873Fortune Cookie Fortunes

Written and Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

Don’t you just love fortune cookies? I must say that I do. I love how generic and uplifting most of the messages are, and with just the right slant and angle, you can find ways that it could fit into your life, perhaps affirm what you have always believed to be true, or help one develop a much firmer resolve with certain decisions that need to be made. I love how they are designed to be deliberately vague, yet pointed enough to make one think and reflect over life choices.

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In this picturebook, each family member from Ba-Ba, to Ma-Ma, Mei-Mei, Jie-Jie and the young narrator too unwrap a fortune cookie that tells them a bit about what their future holds for them, as you can see above.

While Mei-Mei, the eldest child is convinced that fortunes never really come true, the middle child and the narrator of this story believes otherwise. As she observes each family member, she tries to be alert to signs that the fortune they are given is slowly coming true.

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Whether or not the fortune predictions are realized, I shall leave for you to discover. Teachers would be happy to note that there is a considerable amount of back matter that provides detailed information about fortune cookies, which apparently is considered to be “one of the first true Asian American foods.” This one I didn’t even know until I read the book. For teachers who wish to make use of this in the classroom, here is a downloadable PDF link created by RandomHouse that includes a text-set on Celebrating Chinese Culture that also includes other titles by Grace Lin and other authors.

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Written by: Lenore Look Illustrated by: Stephen T. Johnson
Published byAn Anne Schwartz Book – Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1999
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

For some reason, Lenore Look’s deceptively-simple narratives always bring tears to my eyes as the intricately-woven tale takes an emotional twist in the end that is truly multi-layered, making her picturebooks quite unique in that sense. Any reader from different age-groups would be able to find something in this story that would speak to them at various levels, making it a story that begs to be read aloud again and again.

Young Katie spends nearly every Saturday with her Grandmother whom she calls GninGnin as her parents go to work. And while she would show her grandmother how to dress a Barbie Doll, her grandmother would teach her how to make sticky rice dumplings and other delicious stuff that takes a lot of time and love to prepare and put together.

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Katie knows that her GninGnin works in a factory that cracks crabs, and it is her dream to be just like her grandmother. She wanted a taste of what it means to ride the bus, wear rubber gloves, a rubber apron and tall rubber boots and crack those tough shells to unearth the precious crabmeat found within. When Katie finally came with her GninGnin to the factory, she was warned not to talk to anyone: “Every minute is another penny!”

At the end of the day, with GninGnin’s hands smelling chiubungbung and her entire body exhausted, she still manages to prepare something extraordinary and feed her granddaughter “heaven in a spoon” as she nourishes Katie’s body and soul with dreams of a life beyond the drudgery, beyond the only job available to older immigrant women who lacked English and other job skills. It shows a significantly-moving portrait of the gritty backbone behind the American dream.

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Love as strong as ginger is based on the author’s own childhood memories of her Chinese immigrant grandmother who also worked in a Seattle cannery in the 1960s and 70s, as seen in the Author’s Note found at the beginning of the book. Find this book and know how a dish can be “made with love as strong as ginger and dreams as thick as black-bean paste.” Simply beautiful.

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In this downloadable .doc file created by the Long Beach District, there are detailed instructions on what teachers can do to prepare their students in reading this book as well as discussion guide questions that they can use in the classroom, a list of vocabulary words,  printable sheets and extension activities that teachers can make us of.

Currently Reading…

I am happy to share that I have finished reading Miranda Emmerson’s Fragrant Heart which I will be reviewing for our current reading theme a few weeks from now.

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I am now in the thick of reading Mahtab Narsimhan’s The Tiffin and hope to finish it this week.

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Still have not made much progress though with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.

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My book club for adults called Saturday Night Out for Book Geeks (SNOB-Geeks) also met during the weekend to discuss Candy Gourlay’s latest novel Shine.

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Had to leave early though as my little Miss Maleficent picked me up. 🙂

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Reading Challenge Update: 114, 115 (25)

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10 comments on “[Monday Reading] Ginger Love and Fortune Cookies

  1. Your theme is making me want to cook Filipino food again but not before I find a good book to go along with it!

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  2. lisaalmedasumner

    You look like you have a busy reading life! Thanks for sharing the various Monday memes.

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  3. I’ll have to find the Fortune Cookie book, what fun to add to a cooking unit, & I love Love As Strong As Ginger-a lovely story, Myra. Happy you shared it! I looked up Fragrant Heart-sounds like a wonderful memoir of adventure! Thank you!

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  4. So happy to read your thoughts on Love as Strong as Ginger, one of my favorite’s by Lenore Look… 🙂

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  5. Love both books. Both are colorful and meaningful. Really enjoyed your post.

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  6. I love the looks of Fortune Cookie Fortunes and Love as Strong as Ginger! It took me a while to get through The Goldfinch, too. 😉

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  7. I love Lenore Look and this is one I haven’t seen yet. The Fortune Cookie PB looks lovely. I have made zero progress on Goldfinch–though I did read a foolish article this morning about criticism of the novel. (Quoting some negative reviews that call the novel a “children’s book” as a way to insult it). I am just too engaged by all the kids, middle-grade, and YA I’m reading right now to feel very compelled to pick up Goldfinch right now.

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  8. I love that picture of you reading on the beach! I really like the Alvin Ho book, he’s such a fun character!

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  9. Thanks for telling us about Love as Strong as Ginger. I can’t wait to read it.

    Happy Summer
    Tammy and Clare

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  10. Pingback: Saturday Reads: Grandparents and the Stories they Tell | Gathering Books

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