Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Days of Picture Books - Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore

It's Day 8 of Picture Book Month. Today we're thinking about relationships. There's nothing like the act of sharing a book with someone to cement your relationship. Common stories unite all of us, as a people and as smaller units of family and friends. When I read an incredible book, the first thing I want to do is share it with everyone I know -- well, you know that, because that's why you're reading this! And I think it's important to use picture books to build that shared bond with our little ones.

But picture books can also illustrate important aspects about relationships, such as the connections between the generations. Family history is more than just having the same last name. It's a heritage and shared language that is passed down from one generation to another. This is how the knowledge of our families is kept alive, the traditions and ties that link us to our past and to our future.

Food is, for most families, a crucial part of the shared experience. Think back to your childhood and I'll bet you find that there's something like grandma's pies or uncle's barbecue that still makes your mouth water, even as a memory. And that's the case in Cora Cooks Pancit, a picture book by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore that celebrates one family's culinary legacy.

In the book, Cora feels left out when the family cooks because as the youngest, she only gets the little-kid jobs. Then one day her siblings are out of the house and Cora's mama suggests they cook together. As they make a favorite family dish, Mama tells Cora about her Lolo, or grandfather, who cooked for the Filipino farmworkers and shared stories of his youth in the Philippines as he did. Cora loves hearing about Lolo and learning how to make pancit, one of her favorite dishes. Best of all, when her brothers and sisters come home, Cora gets to tell them that she did all the "grown-up" jobs this time around!

This lovingly told story of a Filipino family sparkles with pictures by illustrator Kristi Valiant. I love the way Valiant takes us right into Cora's perspective, as she looks down on a steaming pot of scrumptious-looking noodles and veggies (don't worry, the recipe's included). And Cora's expressive eyes shine with pride as her whole family settles down to a meal cooked by the youngest, but with ties to generations past.

Gather your kiddos for a reading of this delicious tale of food and family, reminiscent of another favorite, Linda Sue Park's Bee Bim Bop. Gilmore evokes a mood of togetherness and connection in a story that everyone can enjoy.

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, published by Shen's Books


Michelle Cusolito said...

I love this book, too. And, as someone who lived in the Philippines and ate LOTS of pancit, I can tell you the recipe is good! One bite and I was whizzed back to Cebu.

I blogged about CORA back in 2010. My post focused more on my family's experience of making the pancit. I also suggested some other resources that may interest you and your readers.

mary kinser said...

Thanks Michelle! It's great to get another perspective on this terrific book. :)