by Ginnie Lo
illustrated by Beth Lo
New York : Lee & Low Books, 2012.unpaged picture book, autobiographical
Mama wanted the cousins to "grow up as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod." This meant that they often visited each other to share the traditions of their native Chinese culture. All the parents had come to the United States to get an education at various universities. They had been unable to return to China due to war. During the visits the children were given Chinese lessons as well as lessons in watercolor painting and paper-folding. The parents played mahjong endlessly and the kids played outside. During one weekend excursion the families discovered fields of soybeans - something the parents greatly missed from their growing up years. They found the farmer who let them pick some and they had a soybean feast like you wouldn't believe! This discovery led to a new family tradition blending their past with their present life, the Great Soybean Picnic. As the years went by more and more Chinese families from the area were invited and the event grew larger and larger.
What a wonderful book about families keeping traditions alive and growing! And it is based on the creators' real-life story! I love the illustrations!