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Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles Book Cover Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles
Shan-Shan Chen
Children's Book
Tuttle Publishing
Oct. 26, 2014

A loving story of adoption, Chinese culture and a special birthday treat

Mei-Mei is Chinese—but not Mom and Dad! When she was a baby, Mom and Dad flew all the way to the other side of the world to adopt her and bring her home. Lucky for Mei-Mei, her parents want her to know all about her roots in China's wonderful culture. That's why, on her birthday, her mom always makes her a traditional Chinese treat—long noodles, for a long and happy life. And this year, Mei-Mei is big enough to help her mom make them!

Through a simple story and bright illustrations, Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles takes young readers through this special day, from the moment an excited Mei-Mei wakes up in the morning and puts on her favorite dress, through helping Mom measure water, clean veggies and rinse noodles, to a great birthday celebration with family and friends. After the story comes a kid-friendly recipe for this tasty traditional dish. Younger kids can help Mom or Dad—just like Mei-Mei—while older kids can make it themselves, with supervision.

Along with the birthday excitement and a great Chinese treat, readers will see the adoptive experience at its best—a lot of love and the sharing of roots, showing both parents and kids one of the many ways adopted children from all over the world can learn about the country they come from and take pride in its culture.

About the Author:

Accomplished chef Shan-Shan Chen has been a regular guest on California's show The View from the Bay, where she demonstrates to viewers how to prepare inexpensive and delicious Chinese dishes. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, she enjoys sharing the richness of Chinese culture with people of all backgrounds.

Heidi Goodman specializes in watercolors and, of course, she loves books and cooking. She lives in California with her husband and two sons, and has previously worked for Excite, Inc. and Pottery Barn Kids online.

I was very eager to review this book because I thought it would be a nice tool to use to introduce the concept of adoption to my five-year-old son. He didn’t know yet what the word means. And so we began to read the book and unfortunately, although it was obvious that the main character, Mei-Mei, is adopted, there was no explanation about the concept at all. Adoption, in the book, was already a given.

I guess to older kids who already know what adoption is this won’t be a problem. However, for younger kids, I suggest you prep them first with a short intro on adoption before you read this book or else they won’t get what that part means.

Aside from that though, I think this book is a good read for kids. I like that it highlights the Chinese culture and shows how Mei-Mei’s adoptive parents are making an effort to teach her about her heritage. I think this is an important thing for adoptive parents to do.

I also like that it shows mother and daughter bonding together by way of cooking. Mei-Mei helping her adoptive mom to cook is a great example for kids in teaching them about helping around the house. At the same time they’ll be learning and having fun with their family.

The book is also big, about short bond paper size, which is great because that means bigger illustrations as well. The illustrations, by the way, are beautiful and colorful, making the reading experience more fun for kids.

Lastly, I really like the recipe at the back. It encourages readers to actually experience what Mei-Mei and her mom did in the book. The learning experience doesn’t stop at merely reading the book. Love that! I believe kids learn more when they actually experience things.

Overall, I think it’s a worthy read because it’s simple and teaches valuable lessons to its readers. I definitely recommend it.

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  1. I’d definitely like the recipe at the back to try. That helps the kids to understand the book even more. Parang may personal touch. We don’t have any Chinese roots so talagang completely foreign and Chinese language para sa amin. Dapat siguro mag into to mandarin muna kami bago basahin itong book na to. hehe.
    Nilyn recently posted…“Let Kids Be Kids” VS “Because I Said So”My Profile

    1. Oh no need naman to learn Mandarin to understand the book. It’s written 99% in English. 🙂

  2. I love short stories like Mei Mei’s. They can be rich in lessons and yes, the illustrations are really beautifully done. We’ve got a number of thin books like that and I used to read them to my boys. I also use the book as a way for my boys to practice their penmanship. They would copy the text and afterward, I would check their handwriting. These are the same books we use for the boys to real aloud and practice reading, the power pause, and diction.
    Berlin recently posted…MOMI WANDERS| When in PalawanMy Profile

    1. Nice idea on using books to let your kids practice writing! Will do that with Ziggy. 🙂 Thanks!

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