Sunday, September 10, 2023

Today's read... Fried Rice and Marinara by Mike Yam

Today's read caught my attention thanks to our own family's mish-mash of food. After living abroad for 20+ years, our kitchen isn't exactly set in one direction. Spaghetti-tacos, mac 'n cheese pizza, and Mexican-peanut-sauced Schnitzel aren't dishes to ignore despite the strange-sounding combinations. So why not fried rice with marinara? Let's see if it's worth the read or not.

by Mike Yam
Illustrated by Laura Dong
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

Birthday parties are so much fun: the friends, the family, the games, the gifts, and, of course, the food! But what type of food do you serve at a birthday party when your family is from two different cultures? Young Mikey Yam is having a hard time choosing between the Italian food of his mother’s side and the Chinese cuisine of his dad’s. So, he turns to his grannies, Bahboo and Nonna, for advice.

“Ravioli or Dumplings? Linguine or Lo Mein? All of these options were hurting his brain.”

Join Young Mikey as he decides which type of food to have for his birthday party, and the important life lesson he learns along the way.

A Vooks Original, Fried Rice & Marinara is a rhyming story about two cultures coming together to create something special. Written by Mike Yam and illustrated by Laura Dong.



Food from various cultures is exciting to try, but this books takes the fun a step further to see what happens when they mix together.

Mikey comes from a mixed heritage: Chinese and Italian. It's great until his birthday rolls around and he needs to choose what they're going to eat at his party. Both kitchens count as his favorites, and he has no idea how he's going to decided which one he wants to have on that day. 

The world is a mixing pot and that isn't any different on the food end. This read takes two well-known food directions and shows how they can be mixed together and enjoyed. It encourages young readers to explore various foods of other cultures, by showing how each one has delicious things. It also demonstrates the fun of having a mixed family. So there's a lot of food and cultural goodness involved.

The tale itself is written in rhyme, which flows pretty well. It makes a nice read-aloud for groups or in individual settings. The illustrations are bright, bold and fit to the story. These do carry a more generated atmosphere but bring across the story well. There are extras at the end of the book, which encourage young listeners/readers to present their own favorite foods and more. I do wish there was a recipe to go along with the tale, but that's just a personal note. 

It's a lovely read, which will have kids wanting to experiment and enjoy too.

And here he is...

MIKE YAM is a sportscaster and studio host for NFL Network and SiriusXM radio. He has worked at ESPN, NBA TV and Pac-12 Network. “Fried Rice and Marinara” marks his debut in children’s literature. Growing up with a Chinese immigrant father from Hong Kong and an Italian mother, Yam has always been fascinated by diverse cultures and perspectives. Yam is a passionate advocate for social issues and has authored op-eds on immigration and the Asian American community. Yam is a graduate of Fordham University and resides in Southern California.

Twitter: @Mike_Yam | Instagram: @Mike_Yam

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