August 22 – National Bao Day

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About the Holiday

National Bao Day, established as an annual holiday in 2017, was founded by Wow Bao to celebrate the anniversary of the launch of their first restaurant in Chicago on August 22 and to honor the ancient Chinese tradition of bao. To celebrate today, order dinner from your favorite Chinese restaurant or make this delicious meal at home.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Written by Kat Zhang | Illustrated by Charlene Chua

 

Amy can do lots of things well. She can even multitask. But when it comes to making the perfect bao—the thing she wants to do most of all—she has no luck. “Sometimes they come out too small. Sometimes they come out too big.” Sometimes the filling is oozing from the top; sometimes the bao is empty; and then there are the times when the whole bao crumbles before she can even eat it. Everyone else in the family can make a perfect bao. “Their bao are soft and fluffy and so, so delicious.”

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Image copyright Charlene Chua, 2019, text copyright Kat Shang, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Today, Amy has decided, is the day she will do it. “She’s going to make the world’s most perfect bao.” Her dad helps her mix up the dough. Then they knead it and pound it and leave it to rise. Soon the little lump of dough fills the bowl. Amy’s dad squashes it, rolls it, and cuts little rounds while Amy’s mom makes the filling on the stove.

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Image copyright Charlene Chua, 2019, text copyright Kat Shang, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Now it’s time to make the bao. Amy’s mom, dad, and grandma gather at the table and start filling the dough. Amy fills a round too, but turns out a little lumpy, so she tries again. This one is too full and no matter how much she pinches the top, it just doesn’t close right. Her dad, mom, and grandma are all making perfect bao. They try giving her advice, but it doesn’t help. Amy feels dejected. Then she has an idea. She looks at her hands, she looks at the grown-ups’ hands. She looks at the dough. “She whispers her idea into her grandma’s ear.” In a moment she has two “Amy-size pieces” of dough in her hands. She rolls out the dough, fills it just right, and “pinch, pinch, pinches it shut.” Amy holds up her “perfect bao!”

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Image copyright Charlene Chua, 2019, text copyright Kat Shang, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Amy makes perfect bao after perfect bao. Now it’s time to steam them. Inside the bamboo steamer are all of Amy’s bao—the good and the bad. When they’re done, the family sits down to munch. Amy eats two of her perfect bao. Then she eats one of her lesser attempts and discovers that it tastes just as good as the perfect ones. The next day she takes her bao to school to share at lunchtime, and her classmates think they are just perfect.

Amy’s family recipe for bao follows the story.

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Image copyright Charlene Chua, 2019, text copyright Kat Shang, 2019. Courtesy of Aladdin.

In her charming culinary tale, Kat Zhang introduces a little girl who dreams of perfection. In Zhang’s straightforward storytelling, kids will recognize their own desires to reach perfect heights—whether in art, music, sports, or other activity. Kids will be captivated by the step-by-step process in making bao—especially if their own family has joined the bread-making phenomena of recent months. As Amy begins assembling her bao, only to have them turn our lumpy or empty once again, suspense builds. Amy’s realization of problem and solution is an empowering lesson for children struggling to achieve their own goals while her discovery that both perfect and imperfect bao are just as delicious is a reminder that perfection isn’t everything.

Charlene Chua’s Amy Wu is a powerhouse of enthusiasm and personality who tackles tasks with everything she’s got, and she has her heart set on making the perfect bao. Chua depicts Amy’s imagined perfect bun floating above her, surrounded by light and celebrated by a dragon and a fenghuang, humorously portraying the lofty goal Amy, like many kids attempting to achieve a goal, has given herself. As Amy sets her plan in motion on the appointed day, Chua realistically illustrates each step. Readers will empathize with images of Amy struggling to fill and close her bao, and a clever close-up illustration of Amy with her family behind her reflects the way people, advice, and even one’s own thoughts can intrude. When Amy realizes that the size of her hands in relation to the amount of dough is the problem, savvy readers may think back to the first spread, where Amy has similar problems with a toothpaste tube and her shoelaces. 

An empowering story, Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao inspires children to keep striving to achieve their goals while including comforting reassurance for the journey along the way. The book would be a welcome addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2019 | ISBN 978-1534411333

Discover more about Kat Zhang and her books on her website.

To learn more about Charlene Chua, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Bao Day Activity

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Amy Wu’s Family Bao Recipe

 

Try your hand at making perfect – or not so perfect – bao. Either way, you know they’ll taste delicious! You can find Amy Wu’s family recipe at Simon & Schuster.

Amy Wu’s Family Bao Recipe

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You can find Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

August 23 – Ride the Wind Day

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About the Holiday

Today is set aside to honor the first manned air flight to win a Kremer Prize, a series of monetary awards established by Henry Kremer to commemorate pioneers in human-powered flight and administrated by the Royal Aeronautical Society. The first Kremer Prize was won on this date in 1977 by Dr. Paul MacCready when his Gossamer Condor, piloted by Brian Allen flew a figure eight around two markers one half mile apart. Three Kremer Prize milestones still remain to be accomplished. Today people are encouraged to spend time outdoors catching the wind with a kite, pinwheel, sailboat, or maybe with a toy airplane like the little boy in today’s book!

The Boy and the Airplane

By Mark Pett

 

A little boy receives a present and watches the giver as he leaves. When the boy opens the box, he is thrilled to find a red airplane inside. He runs outside to play with it, zooming it up and down. Laying it on the ground, he then becomes an airplane, zooming around with his arms out as wings.

The boy looks at his plane and wonders. He picks it up and gives it a good, hard throw. It soars upward…upward, its propeller spinning as it speeds away. The boy chases after it then stops. His plane has come to a landing…on the roof. He ponders what to do for a moment, then gets a ladder. He leans the ladder against the house and climbs to the top rung, but he’s not nearly close enough. With child-like persistence, he tries different tactics—lassoing it, hitting it off with a baseball, jumping on a pogo stick, spraying it off with a hose—nothing dislodges his new toy.

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Image copyright Mark Pett, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

He sits down under a tree to think. As he reflects a whirlybird seed spirals down in front of him. He gazes at it, then goes to the garage for a shovel. He digs a hole, tosses the whirlybird in, pats down the dirt and waits. Snow falls on a tiny sapling as the boy in his coat, cap, and scarf keep it company. A future springtime sees both the boy and the tree older, with a little more height and hair and a little more height and leaves, respectively.

The tree grows tall and sturdy, complete with a bird’s nest and little peepers as the boy becomes an adult, complete with suit and tie and wiser peepers. By the time the boy reaches middle age, the tree’s trunk is thick and powerful, and as the boy matures to old age, the tree is strong enough to hold him. The elderly man climbs his tree’s branches and reaches over the eaves. His red plane is waiting for him, a little dusty now and tied down with cobwebs, but just as it was on that afternoon so long ago.

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Image copyright Mark Pett, courtesy simonandschuster.com

With the exuberance of his youth, the man pulls back to give the plane a good, hard throw, but he stops. He considers his recovered toy and keeps it close instead, devising another plan for the airplane. He knows someone else who will like that plane as much as he did. he puts it in a box, wraps it and gives it to his granddaughter.

Mark Pett’s lovely, wordless picture book is a tribute to childhood, imagination, patience, and generational longevity. The subtle, vintage-style drawings in hues of brown on sage green backgrounds, punctuated only with the deep maroon red of the airplane, convey the feeling of permanence and the enduring presence of nature and familial love. The figure disappearing off the left-hand side of the first page after presenting the gift of the airplane to the little boy mirrors the clothes of the elderly man the boy has become as he gives the airplane to his granddaughter, passing down tradition and heritage.

Kids will also enjoy spotting the little bird that follows the boy on every page and hatches its own family in the branches of the mature tree. A close reading reveals deeper meanings and metaphors, comparisons and humor, making The Boy and the Airplane a perfect book for quiet story times or bedtime.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013 | ISBN 978-1442451230

Discover more books by Mark Pett and what’s coming next on his website!

Ride the Wind Day Activity

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Tiny Toy Airplane Coloring Page

 

Is this airplane in the sky or at the airport? Or maybe it’s sitting in a field or at an airshow. It could be an attraction at a fair, or maybe it’s waiting to take you for a ride! Draw in whatever background you imagine and then color it! Get your Tiny Toy Airplane Coloring Page here!

Picture Book Review