- Reviewed by Bruce Arrington for Readers’ Favorite and Barnes & Noble, author of the Josh Avril series and the Fallen Powers series
Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) by Eugenia Chu is an illustrated children’s story that mixes American and Chinese cultures, bringing not only traditions together, but also the two languages. Brandon’s parents live in the United States, but the boy’s grandmother lives in China, and she comes for a visit. What follows is a series of high energy experiences focused on Brandon’s favorite Chinese food and his grandmother. The book includes a preface describing how to pronounce Chinese syllables and a glossary of Chinese words and numbers.
The book is filled with humor, fun, and simple child-like drawings. You can feel Brandon’s energy as he prepares (or so attempts) his favorite dish with his grandmother, but more importantly bonding with a family member who has come from far away. I appreciate how this story is based in the reality of the author, Eugenia Chu, and how her life experience is shared in this book. Family is paramount, and something as simple as preparing food together can make positive memories that could last the lifetime of Brandon. Sharing these experiences allows the reader to appreciate the values of this happy family.
Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi not only helps two cultures to harmonize through family, but it also can be helpful for family members who are separated over long distances. This story can help children appreciate family, and guide them in creating positive memories themselves. I am so glad I was able to review this outstanding story and I heartily recommend it to families with young children the world over.
- Reviewed by Carole Roman for Goodreads and Amazon, award-winning author of over fifty children’s books including the Captain No Beard series, If You Were Me and Lived in – series, and the Oh Susannah series, among others
Adorable story about Brandon and his experience making dumplings with his grandmother. This is such a cute book on so many levels. Sprinkled throughout are Chinese sentences that are written phonetically so that the reader can sound out the Chinese words. Brandon makes the dumplings with his grandmother, spilling a mountain of flour on the floor and himself, and then acts like a ghost. He eats all the dumplings up, and the family enjoys watching his antics. It’s nice to read a book where the idea of family is embraced and revered. Neatly told, charmingly illustrated, somehow I think this is an important book to the Chu family, and it feels like it based on a memorable family experience.
- Reviewed by Serendipity Marieon for Amazon, Goodreads and LibraryThings
I am a huge fan of bilingual children’s books. I love them for languages that I work with my child to learn or for other languages, just for exposure. A common pitfall for these books is that they fall into two unhelpful categories: flashcard style books with showing vocabulary with pictures or simply showing both the story separately in both languages, with no way to intermingle them unless you repeat the story in the other language. If you’ve ever sought out bilingual English-Chinese children’s books, they usually have the added issue of only having either the characters or the pinyin (and sometimes worse: a third pronunciation form).
Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is one of those rare exceptions that incorporates both pinyin, characters (traditional), and a delightful story. The best part is that the pinyin/character elements are woven into the story, so you aren’t just either reading in Chinese or English but all together, like you would if both languages are used in the house. This was such a pleasant surprise that I bought a second copy of the book, so I could keep the first to read with my daughter and still give away the second to a little free library.
The story itself covers familial relations with a loving grandmother and her grandson, the passing of culinary traditions, and also how to be resilient in the face of mistakes. The illustrations are simple, but compliment the story well. The publishing style leaves a lot of blank space on the page, but it’s not particularly distracting. Looking forward to more books like this from the author.
- Reviewed by Sierra Luke for Goodreads, Author of the E.C. Max, Kid Genius series, Oh No! series and the Andy Airplane series
My children enjoyed trying to pronounce the Chinese words included but would love the audio to make sure they were saying them correctly. It could only be better if the text was space out more so that the characters, Pingyin and the English do not appear jumbled together especially during the conversations.
A great way to introduce young children to the Chinese language and culture.
- Reviewed by Pam Mooney for Goodreads
- Reviewed by Lisa for Goodreads
This brings in all the parts I am interested in: Culture, History, Family, and Food. We are the members of our family who gather together the family stories, history (family and otherwise), recipes and love learning about our cultures as well as others. I would love to have gotten this book even if I did not have grandbabies to share this wonderful tale with. As I opened it, my daughter saw it while I quickly flipped through it in the car. She immediately said she wanted to read it. I had to put my foot down and insist on reading it first. It has become one that will be in my library for good. Nanny (grandma) now has another wonderful book to share with the grandbabies and someday great grandbabies.
I received this as a goodreads giveaway. I am very thankful for it.
- Reviewed by Lisa for goread.com
I love, love, love this book! I have grandbabies to read it to but would have loved it anyway. The culture, food, and most importantly, family connections make this a MUST READ!! This has been put in my personal library and will be well loved by grandbabies and great grandbabies to come.
- Reviewed by Maritza Mejia for Goodreads
This enjoyable story includes some conversational in Mandarin Chinese and a preface that explains Pinyin pronunciation. It is written in a way you can interconnect the relation between a Chinese grandmother and her Chinese-American grandson.
The story begins when Brandon’s mother surprises him after school with his grandma, Pó Po, from China. When they get home, the action begins when they decided to make Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi. Brandon enjoys the adventure while making a big mess in the kitchen and having a good time with Pó Po.
While making the Chinese dumplings, the author Eugenia Chu, introduces words in Mandarin and the meaning. It’s a conversation easy to follow that engage the characters in a bond over the experience in the kitchen.
Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi has a great lesson for grandmothers and encourages family traditions.
Congratulations Eugenia Chu!
- Reviewed by Alicia for Goodreads, Amazon and goread.com
My mom won this book on goodreads. I couldn’t read it before she did so I snagged it up as soon as she was done! Excited to read to my nieces and nephews!
- Reviewed by Ronit for Goodreads and Amazon
I like this book, the story is about Brandon, he is an American Of Chinese origin kid that likes to make and eat Jiǎo Zi- Dumpling. This is very cute story, also the book will help to learn a little about Chinese food . And it teach you a few words in Chinese.
- Reviewed by Anne M. Lewis for Amazon
I received this ebook for free in exchange for my honest review. It is a cute story about a little boy and his grandmother. I love children’s books that integrate another language into the story. This book does not disappoint. It is especially helpful that the preface contains information on pronunciation, and there is a glossary of the words used. I enjoyed this children’s book.
- Reviewed by Scottune for Amazon
I love the educational component of this book. It’s such a wonderful book for teaching some basic Chinese words to kids. But I also love the creative and fun story that I think will really keep kids interested. And what a fun ending! Great job to this author/illustrator team!
- Reviewed by Booklover 1111 for Amazon
Love this sweet book! I enjoyed learning more about her culture and I’m anxious for her next book!
- Reviewed by Rocio Monroe for Amazon
This adorable story includes some conversational Mandarin Chinese (including Pinyin – pronunciation) and is written the way a real Chinese grandmother and her Chinese-American grandson would speak with each other. It is a fun read for families with children who are learning, or are interested in, Mandarin or Chinese culture.
- Reviewed by Ethan Wall for Amazon
I’ve known Eugenia for many years, first as an attorney and then in friendship. It is a wonderful thing for her to have shared her passion through this book, and I am confident that Brandon’s story will inspire and delight its readers (myself included). I am excited to read about Brandon’s adventures, and look forward to more stories from Eugenia in the future.