The Story of Chopsticks
K-Gr 3-A Chinese-American cookbook author invents an explanation for the origin of chopsticks. Long ago, Compestine tells readers, when "all Chinese people ate with their hands," Keai (Quick), the youngest of three boys, was never fast enough to grab some nourishment before his brothers. In desperation born of hunger, he pulled two sticks from the kindling pile and used them to spear chunks of hot food. His family members immediately copied the tools and named them Keai zi (quick ones) after him. When they were invited to a wedding banquet, the brothers, wielding their sticks, gobbled up the delicious, festive dishes. The village children caught on quickly, but the elders had to consider whether using the new implements conflicted with established etiquette. An author’s note offers facts about the history of chopsticks, explains how to hold them, describes good table manners in a Confucian context, and gives a simple recipe for one of the dishes served at the wedding feast. Xuan’s handsome illustrations, boldly colored cut-paper designs recalling a traditional Chinese art, are abstract enough to suggest the "high and far-off times" of this modern pourquoi tale, yet lively enough to engage viewers. Unlike the spurious "Chop-Sticks," in Arthur B. Chrisman’s Shen of the Sea (Dutton, 1968), this story is rooted in Chinese culture and offers American readers an authentic glimpse of its traditions. Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
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"The Story of Chopsticks" teacher review
This book comes from a series of books about Chinese inventions. Every time the brothers Pan, Ting, and Kuai have a problem, they invent something to solve their problem. Kids can easily connect to the characters in the book who are described as playing and misbehaving like a typical kid that would live in America or anywhere else in the world. The artwork throughout the book reflects traditional Chinese customs and the book pairs English writing with Chinese writing throughout. Although this book is fiction, the author’s note provides good facts about the history of chopsticks, how to use them, table manners, and gives a simple recipe to try. This book will be a great addition to any classroom library to help with teaching about Chinese customs and culture.
Reviewed by: Julie Samples