I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of  Multicultural Children's Book Day this year! I was excited to receive "Brandon Mak...

'Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi' by Eugenia Chu Book Review - Multicultural Children's Book Day


I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of Multicultural Children's Book Day this year! I was excited to receive "Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi" by Eugenia Chu and Helena Chu Ho as a free book to review and share. As a first generation Chinese-American, Chu found it very difficult to find children's storybooks featuring Chinese culture and language to read to her son, so she decided to write her own! "Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi" tells the story of Chu's son, Brandon, making jiǎo zi (Chinese dumplings) with his grandmother who is visiting from China. You can't help but laugh along as Brandon makes a flour-y mess and then fills his belly! 

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I thought the illustrations in this book (done by Eugenia's little sister Helena!) gave the book such a warm feeling, like you had been invited into Brandon's home and were viewing the whole experience through a child's eyes. The simplicity of the drawings let you focus on what the story was really about: Brandon, his grandmother, and the dumplings!

My kid critics also enjoyed the story! They thought it was very funny and the story made them want dumplings and to make food art! Here are some of their reactions:
"I liked when Brandon ate all 10 dumplings and his stomach got really big!" - Lil C, 8
"My favorite part was when the little boy got flour everywhere! It's like when we help [Mommy] bake!" - Emma, 6

It was so easy for me to relate to Chu's story for a couple reasons - first, all 4 of my grandparents were Ukrainian and my parents were first generation Ukrainian-Americans so the story reminds me of my childhood and interacting with my grandparents. The back and forth between English and Mandarin in the story is exactly what would happen when I was speaking with my grandparents! The second reason I relate so well to the story is I am now in the same situation as Chu was when she decided to write this book. Children's books featuring Ukrainian culture and language are equally difficult to find and I am inspired to try to create my own books for my Lil C and Squidgy. 

As an extension activity, we made our own jiǎo zi out of play dough. I gave the kids some homemade play dough (recipe below) for the dough and little rocks for the filling - you could also use beads or dried beans as the filling. Lil C especially loved pinching the dough together and scalloping the edge to make it look pretty. You could also put out chopsticks so the kids can practice picking up the dumplings and moving them onto a plate or pretending to eat them! 

Cardboard Mom's Homemade Play Dough

Add 1/4 cup white flour (bleached or unbleached), 1/8 cup salt, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon oil to a small non-stick pot. Pour in about 1/3 cup water and stir everything together (you want the consistency to be that of really runny mashed potatoes - I've found it's better to put in a little too much water and cook it longer than to put in too little). At this point, you can add food coloring or extracts for smell. 

Cook the play dough over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts firming up. Then continue stirring and cooking until no wet spots remain. Dump it out onto a plate to cool, kneading it every few minutes or so until it's no longer hot. Once it's completely cooled, use immediately or place in an airtight container (I love using the jars from Talenti gelato). 

Of course, making or buying real jiǎo zi is also a perfect activity to go along with this story! If you're feeling adventurous and want to try making your own, you can make Pó Po's Jiǎo Zi. Also, please check out Eugenia's website for more information about the author and the book, to hear a read aloud version of the story, to purchase your own copy of "Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi," or to download coloring pages and worksheets. 

I also had the opportunity to review "From My Window" by Otávio Júnior

Don't forget to connect with Multicultural Children's Book Day on social media and make sure to look for and use #ReadYourWorld.





Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, CapstoneHoopoe Books,  KidLitTV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press, My Well Read Child 

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell , Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author Diana Huang & IntrepidsAuthor Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club,  Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay FletcherTales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

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  1. Thanks so much for your wonderful review and for celebrating with us.

    1. I'm so happy to have been a part of a wonderful celebration! Can't wait until next year :-)