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Reviewed by Kristine Zimmerman for Readers' Favorite
Dumplings Mean Family by Jennifer Shaw is an adoption story based on the author's family. The Shaws have adopted three children from China into their family of five. Ethan, one of their adopted sons, narrates the story. He explains that when he and his siblings were adopted, they had to adjust to many new things in America. One of the things they missed the most was the food they grew up on. They enjoyed eating noodles, dumplings, and whole fish, but their mom doesn't know how to make those things. Their mom decides that they will learn to make dumplings as a family. Everyone pitches in, and they all enjoy their tasty creations. Sprinkled throughout the book are some Chinese words and pronunciations. A recipe for Pork Dumplings is included.
Dumplings Mean Family is an important story that shares insight into what an international adoption feels like for the adoptees. Along with the excitement and joy at having a permanent family, there is confusion and loss as they adapt to a new culture. Jennifer Shaw does a great job of highlighting one of the most important aspects of a person's culture - their food. I particularly enjoyed how the family worked to educate themselves on ways to include their adopted children's culture into the family. The illustrations by her daughter, Rinnah Shaw, are engaging and colorful. The cooking scene in the kitchen with all hands helping and eating is delightful. Dumplings Mean Family is a wonderful introduction to Chinese culture and the world of international adoption.