Jama Kim Rattigan

real life characters

Grandma and me

Newton, my dad and me at Grandma's

Me and my older brother Newton, who inspired the character of Hiram

My mom Margaret, Mandoo Maker

My dad James, Official Dumpling Taster

My cousin Marisa, whose name I borrowed for the main character.

Awards and Honors

Winner, New Voices, New World Multicultural Fiction Contest (Little, Brown)

Smithsonian Notable Book

Notable Children's Trade Book in Social Studies

Best Holiday Book, Horn Book Magazine

Recommended by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for their list, "Mirrors and Windows: Seeing the Human Family"

Mmmm, custard tarts. . .

Other Multicultural Picture Books about Food

Bee-bim Bop by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and Kristi Valiant

Hiromi's Hands by Lynne Barasch

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules and Kathryn Mitter

Fortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin

Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong and Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Sweet Potato Pie by Kathleen D. Lindsey and Charlotte Riley-Webb

Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley and Peter J. Thornton

The Have a Good Day Cafe by Frances and Ginger Park and Katherine Potter

Where on Earth is My Bagel? by Frances and Ginger Park and Grace Lin

No Mush Today by Sally Derby and Nicole Tadgell

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez

Jalapeno Bagels by Natasha Wing

Boy Dumplings by Ying Chang Compestine and James Yamasaki

Musubi Man: Hawaii's Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama and Pat Hall

Plenty Saimin by Feng Feng Hutchins and Adriano F. Abatayo III

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia and Ken Min

Big Jimmy's Kum Kau Chinese Take-Out by Ted Lewin

Happy Belly, Happy Smile by Rachel Isadora

Guacamole by Jorge Argueta and Margarita Sada

Arroz con Leche/​Rice Pudding by Jorge Argueta and Fernando Vilela

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo and Beth Lo

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos and Rafael Lopez

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor and Frank Morrison

We Eat Rice by Min Hong and Grace Lin

Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert and Bonnie Christensen

The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan and Tricia Tusa

White Nights of Ramadan by Maha Addasi and Ned Gannon

How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman and Allen Say

Maggie's Chopsticks by Alan Woo and Isabelle Malenfant

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons and E.B. Lewis

Tamalitos by Jorge Argueta and Domi

Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth and Jeffrey Ebbeler

Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell

Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell

Moon Cake!

Dumpling Soup

Seven-year-old Marisa, an Asian American girl in Hawai'i, learns to make dumplings for her family's New Year's celebration.

Illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders, ages 5+

DUMPLING SOUP is my first published picture book for children. It is based on my childhood experiences of celebrating New Year's in Hawai'i. After I moved to the mainland, I discovered that New Year's Eve was geared toward adults, who partied all night while waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. In Hawai'i, New Year's was always family oriented, a time for enjoying large quantities of food and basking in cultural traditions. I wanted children to know that New Year's could be even more fun than Christmas, and to show them why it was my favorite holiday.

All the main characters in DUMPLING SOUP are based on real people, most of whom still live in Hawai'i. Marisa's brother Hiram is based on my older brother, Newton. Grandma is an important character in the story, as my own maternal grandmother represented the heart of the Yang family. She, in essence, raised Newton and me while my parents worked. The aunts, Elsie, Ruth, and Grace, are really three of my mother's four sisters.

Now that I am grown, I miss these New Year's celebrations, which stopped shortly after my grandmother passed away.

Copyright 1993 Lillian Hsu-Flanders. All rights reserved.

Everyone loves to make and eat dumplings!

Assembly Line: Melia, Kaylin and Jordi

Great-nephews Harri and Keenan crafting dumpling masterpieces.

Marin savoring her dumplings.

Activities Across the Curriculum

Most of these activities were enjoyed by the students I visited while I was a writer-in-residence at Parklawn Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia.

1. Research other types of New Year's celebrations. Make murals or dioramas illustrating these.

2. Describe other kinds of family celebrations or special traditions. Interview several family members to gather anecdotes about past celebrations. Share these orally or in essays.

3. Read HOW MY PARENTS LEARNED TO EAT, by Ina Friedman, and then demonstrate how to use chopsticks in class. Provide wooden chopsticks and small treats such as cheerios, M&M's, or cookie bits to practice on. For a real challenge, use chopsticks to eat lunch.

4. Host an international lunch, asking students to bring in different ethnic dishes.

5. Compile a classroom book of international recipes.

6. Make leis using natural materials, or allow the students to make leis reflecting their own personalities or backgrounds.

7. Research other Hawaiian holidays, such as Lei Day, Kuhio Day, or Aloha Week.

8. Discuss the concept of "mixing" or "blending" as illustrated in the book. Cite examples from the story: soup ingredients, dumpling ingredients, mixture of foreign words, mixture of races in the family, mixture of ages, mixture of activities.

9. Make a class word book, asking each student to contribute a word representing his/​her ethnic origin.

For More Ideas

DUMPLING SOUP was recently selected to be part of the AfterSchool KidzLitTM Reading Program, sponsored by the Developmental Studies Center in Oakland, California. Their goal is to bring reading enrichment programs to after school sites around the country. They have published a guidebook which contains wonderful suggestions for activities and discussion.

still hungry?

All website content copyright 2005-2018 Jama Kim Rattigan, and should not be reproduced in any form without permission. All rights reserved.


Picture Books
A story about celebrating New Year's in Hawaii, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders (Little,Brown:1993),32 pages
A retold Hawaiian legend,illustrated by Carla Golembe (Little, Brown:1996),32 pages
A fANTastically funny story,illustrated by G.Brian Karas (Houghton Mifflin:1994),32 pages