Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu!

I've been looking forward to posting today's read for months! And now, I can shout:
Happy Birthday to Tofu Takes Time!!!

This one caught my attention not only due to the unique theme, but I just knew it would focus on the wonderful relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter. Plus, I was secretly hoping to learn a little bit more about tofu.

Ready to see if this one was worth the wait?

by Helen H. Wu
Illustrated by Julie Jarema
Beaming Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4  to 8

CLICK CLACK WHIRRRR . . . Lin and her grandma, NaiNai, are making tofu from scratch! When NaiNai goes through each step, from blending soybeans with water to molding curd into shape, Lin gradually becomes impatient. But she soon discovers that making tofu not only takes time, but also takes the whole universe! It takes the seed from soil and sunshine, the cloth from thread and fiber, weight and space, books of words and pictures. And most of all, it takes spending lovely time with her beloved grandmother.

In this charming tale by Helen H. Wu, readers will marvel at how patience brings a whole universe together in a simple dish made by a modern Chinese American family. Perfect for fans of Fry BreadDrawn Together and Thank You, Omu.



Patience is cushioned with family warmth and the joy of spending time together in a tale, which also dives into the wonder of making tofu.

There are quite a few things to enjoy about this read. First, it explains the process of making tofu from the soy beans to milk, and then, to the press. So, readers get to know exactly how tofu is made. But they learn more. As each step occurs, the next page shows where the 'ingredients' come from to make the tofu. For example, creating soy milk requires water...and this is shown with the little girl floating gleefully (with a touch of adventure) down a river. It presents the broader picture on everything, which goes into making something.

Next, there's the wonderful relationship between the grandmother and little girl. While helping to create the tofu and learn how it's done, the two spend time with each other in a caring manner, which inspires. Of course, the grandmother offers wise words as she repeats the sentence that tofu takes time. This shows that not everything can be rushed, and that, sometimes, the most valuable things need to be waited for. The author doesn't keep this as boring wait time, but has the grandmother and child doing other activities together such as reading. Not only is the idea of patience nicely brought across, but it again radiates the wonder of spending time with a loved one.

The illustrations carry a gentle atmosphere, while holding details as well as a sense of imagination, too. These balance well with the words. While telling the story and repeating the grandmother's one phrase again and again, the author has also built in sound words (such as Tik) to add a sense of playfulness. Young listeners will be able to repeat these as well as the book is picked up again and again.

And to round the entire thing off, the author adds a few words for thought at the end, explaining the history of tofu as well as her own insights while doing research on the topic.

So, there is tons of goodness in these pages and not just for the kids.

And here they are...

Helen H. Wu is a children's book author, illustrator, and translator. She was born and raised in Hefei, China, and now lives in San Diego, California. As a proud first-generation immigrant, Helen loves to share inspiring stories from her own immigrant experience. Her proudest moments are when her own two children listen patiently to her stories again and again.
Web: helenhwu.com

Julie Jarema is an illustrator, writer, and bookseller. She graduated from Bard College with a degree in Written Arts. When she's not making up stories, you can find her going on backyard adventures, sending snail mail, or practicing her circus skills.
Web: www.juliejarema.com
Twitter: @rainbowfish523
Instagram: @rainbowfish523 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

First time I've ever seen tofu used in something other than a cookbook.

Tonja Drecker said...

I hadn't thought of that, but you're right.