Some say that it's never too early to read to your child--even reading to an infant still in the womb is said to increase a baby's language skills. So when the fine folks at Shen's Books sent me a review copy of one of their latest children's books, I couldn't wait to read it to my own new baby boy.
But the book I received was no ordinary children's book. It was a children's book about Filipino culture and food!
Written by Dorina Lazo Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valliant, Cora Cooks Pancit is the story of a young Filipina girl who finally gets the chance to help her mother cook in the kitchen.
After Cora gets the OK from her mother to work in the kitchen, Cora then gets to decide what to cook.
After images of lumpia and adobo dance in Cora's head, she finally decides that she wants to make pancit (Filipino noodles). And with her mother's guidance, Cora helps to make a pancit dinner for the entire family.
Although I, myself, did grow up in a Filipino household, I didn't necessarily spend much of my youth in my mother's kitchen. In fact, if a children's book were illustrated and based on my own childhood, 99% of the pictures would involve me sitting in front of a TV, me and my brothers punching each other in the face, and me sitting in front of a TV.
In fact, much of my TV watching consisted of the following:
Ah, Reading Rainbow. It's a classic! I heart LeVar Burton!
I don't think anything gets me more pumped up than the "Reading Rainbow" theme song. I feel like wrestling grizzly bears. But I digress.
Anyways, as most of you know by now, I kinda got a late start to this whole Filipino food thing. I don't blame this on my mother (not entirely, at least), but perhaps raising three rowdy boys with a penchant for bloody noses was counter-productive to a serious session of lumpia-rolling in her kitchen.
Now, as a new parent myself, I can only hope that my little one will some day show a curiosity in the cultural dishes I prepare in our own kitchen. Luckily, his curiosity is getting a head start whenever I read him Cora Cooks Pancit.
Growing up as a Filipino American, I never came across a children's book that specifically spoke to my heritage. And Cora Cooks Pancit does it all. Not only is Cora Cooks Pancit wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated, but it encourages and promotes Filipino heritage to such a young audience--something that was terribly lacking when I was a kid. Heck, it even includes a Pancit recipe at the end of the book, good eats that I'm sure my youngster will appreciate once he starts eating solid foods.
For more information on Cora Cooks Pancit, visit the Shen's Books website here.