“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cora Cooks Pancit • Picture book

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

April 2009 Shen's Books Picture book Ages 4-8
Cora helps Mama make pancit, her favorite Filipino noodle dish. What will the rest of the family think of their newest chef?
Story: Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon until, one day when her sisters and brother head out, she gets the chance to be Mama's assistant chef. With Mama's help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles needed to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish -- and even gets to stir the noodles in the pot (carefully!) while Mama supervises. When dinner is served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking. PS: Glossary and recipe (!) included.

Story behind the story: Author Dorina Lazo Gilmore says "CORA COOKS PANCIT is a story inspired by my own adventures in the kitchen with my Italian mama and my Filipino grandma, Cora. Both of them encouraged the celebration of culture and taught me to cook different ethnic dishes. The main character, Cora, mixes up a batch of Filipino pancit with her mama. There are hundreds of different versions of pancit but this recipe is similar to what my grandma made as we were growing up. There was always a large platter of pancit on the table for any kind of celebration.

The book also includes some history of Cora's family. Since I live in California I did some research and interviews with Filipinos originally from California's San Joaquin Valley. Rebecca Torosian, who sells stone fruit at our local farmer's market, shared with me the story of her Filipino father working in the fields and cooking delectable Filipino dishes for the farmworkers in Stockton. Her story echoes the stories of so many Filipinos who made their home in the Valley growing and picking produce. My book celebrates their legacy as well."

Illustrator Kristi Valiant tells us that "since picture books tell part of the story through pictures, I like adding a small side story to my illustrations that kids can discover and giggle at while listening to an adult read the book. For Cora Cooks Pancit, I added a dog to the illustrations who wasn't in the text. He follows Cora around and brings her an ever-growing pile of toys, but she doesn't notice him. In the end, they finally play tug-of-war with the very first toy the dog had brought. Bringing Cora to life was a lot of fun. The little girl I used as a reference for Cora never stood flat on two feet, so I gave Cora that same cute quirk.


"Cora Cooks Pancit is a lovely story about home, family, food, culture, growing up, and how all those things fit together. A glossary of terms and, of course, Lolo’s pancit recipe are included at the end of the book, making culture come alive in the kitchen while empowering kids to participate." -- PaperTigers

"Gilmore, who grew up in a Filipino Italian kitchen, tells a heartwarming tale that illustrator Valiant captures with the perfect combination of whimsy and action. You can actually feel Cora's longing as she watchers her siblings in the kitchen, her wonder as she listens to Mama's stories ..., her worry that her pancit might disappoint, and her beaming pride when the whole family enjoys the meal she so lovingly helped to create. This is one treasure of a family book. Delicious, too!" -- BookDragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent. Please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say!


Lisa Kennedy said...

I really enjoyed this book. The school where I work is a miniature U.N. and I am always learning new things from the students about their home countries. Cora Cooks Pancit will be an excellent addition to our media center. The story gives the reader insight into how very much alike families from different cultures really are. The youngest child wishes to be able to do what her older siblings are able to do. When she gets her chance to prepare a meal with her mother she not only enjoys her mother's company and attention but the compliments of her father and siblings. I especially enjoyed the glossary and recipe at the end of the book. The illustrations make the food look delicious! I love the appearance of the puppy. It was fun to watch his antics on the pages. Look closely, he is quite the toy chewer. I give this book a 4 on the Picnic Basket scale because I believe it might be a hard sell to children who are unfamiliar with other cultures.

Barbara said...

This is lovely book filled with color and warmth. Cora's character is engaging and her actions and worries are universal. The details in her posture and facial expressions compliment the story line beautifully.
Having both a glossary and recipe included is a bonus!
Rating: 5

Sandra Stiles said...

I loved this book. I teach ESOL students and can't wait to add it to my collection of cultural books. I loved the way the reader is given glimpses into the life of Filipinos. It was also a feel good book. Cora is young and like all young people she has reached a point where she wants to feel more grown up and she wants to be given more grown up tasks. She is given that opportunity and then waits to see if the family thinks she did a good job. I enjoyed the recipe at the end of the book. I know I will have students who will copy the recipe and try it at home. I give this book a 5 for great content and a beautiful spread of artwork.

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle said...

I give "Cora Cooks Pancit" a 5 out of 5. The story was sweet and will be meaningful to any child that has wanted to attempt something that an older child does. The illustrations are bright and beautiful. I've never had pancit before but I'm very tempted to try the recipe provided.

Mary said...

I work in an inner-city school with students from all different cultures. I am definitely going to use this book with my 1st and 2nd grade students this year! It was full of great pictures, beautiful language and a great moral at the end of the story. I am always learning new things from my kids and I am so excited to be able to share with my kids something I've learned. A definite 5 out of 5.

Hannah said...

I enjoyed "Cora Cooks Pancit". Many students will connect with Cora, either because they want to be able to do the things their older siblings do, as Cora does, or because they also help their mothers cook. I also see this book as an opening for sharing home cultures as students share what foods their families make at home. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and students will enjoy looking for the dog throughout the story. Rating: 5

Megan B. said...

Cora Cooks Pancit by Kristi Valiant is a book I would recommend without reservation. It is a book that can be used to link children together from different cultures. All young children can relate to Cora as she wants to follow in her older siblings’ footsteps and help her mother cook. All kids will, like Cora, sneak tastes of the food when their mom is not looking. And lastly, all kids will hope that they did it right and didn’t mess up. All of this will connect the reader to Cora while also exposing them to a new culture with new foods. The illustrations are just another wonderful thing about this book. Including the recipe for pancit at the back is a great bonus for families that can continue the activity of reading the book by making the recipe.

Julia Pitau said...

Cora Cooks Pancit is a cleverly written book with illustrations that are drawn in a beautiful manner. I was able to relate to the little girl wanting to be involved in “grown-up” jobs from when I was younger. The book, in its entirety, is done in a way that all cultures can relate to while giving readers an insight to Filipino ways and food. Cora is both educational and fun to read!

Picnic rating: 4

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Anonymous said...

This is a great book with a look at a different culture of my students. I love the recipe and the illustrations. I give this a 5 on the picnic scale.

Lemon the Duck said...

Although we don't have much ethnic diversity in the district I work in, I found this story to be a great tool for conncecting the unknown to the known. None of my children knew of the dishes mentioned in the story which was great, but better still was the fact that ALL of my students could connect to Cora because they had helped with a family dish in one form or another. This sparked such lively conversations in my classroom, especially about what food they cooked and with whom, traditions, jobs in the kitchen, and the the idea of sitting down to dinner as a family.
The story had some great figurative and descriptive language. The back matter gave some nice info on the pronunciation of the dishes as well as what they consisted of.
My children insisted on bringing the recipe home to try with their family.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5.
Laura Backman
Hathaway School
Author of "Lemon the Duck"

Martine Battista said...

What beautiful illustrations! I throughly enjoyed the sweet story, but it was the pictures that won me over. The use of shadows in front of the window, the pictures of the fruit (just like Lolo harvested) hanging in the kitchen and the playful dog added so much to the story. I often resist read alouds when I am unsure how to pronounce many of the words. Thankfully the glossary/pronunciation guide takes care of that problem. I also love the recipe. I'm going to share this story with our students right away. I give it a 4.5
Denair Elementary School Library
Denair, CA

SunshineFamily said...

This is an excellent book and a good resource to start a project on a different culture. The illustrations really make you experience what Cora is going through and the food looks delicious. Perhaps, geared at a younger 3-7 year old reader, this book does appeal to older children as well. The recipe is included in the back and good thing, since by the end you are really hungry to make Pancit. There is also a vocabulary list in the back with pronunciations and definitions. Great addition to a classroom library!

Monica Wilson, Stoneridge Library, Roseville, CA said...

Loved this book! The story is told so well that I felt like I could go home and cook Pancit for my family, and actually I can because there is a recipe in the back of the book! The pictures were also wonderful. I know all my students will enjoy looking at the details in the pictures as well as listening to the story.
Our school has a population of Filipino students so it is wonderful to have a story that involves their heritage to share with other students.
I would rate this a 5 in my picnic basket!

Monica Wilson, said...

Loved this book! The story is told so well that I felt like I could go home and cook Pancit for my family, and actually I can because there is a recipe in the back of the book! The pictures were also wonderful. I know all my students will enjoy looking at the details in the pictures as well as listening to the story.
Our school has a population of Filipino students so it is wonderful to have a story that involves their heritage to share with other students.
I would rate this a 5 in my picnic basket!
Stoneridge Library
Roseville, CA

Sarah O. said...

Cora Cooks Pancit is a sweet story with beautiful illustrations!

Cora is too young to help with the adult tasks in cooking, especially when her older siblings are around. But one day when her siblings leave the house during dinner preparation, Cora is afforded the opportunity to help her Mama all by herself.

Not only does this book do a great job at telling a story of a little girl eager to do practical adult tasks, but it is also a wonderful peek into Filipino culture. The reader will get a taste of Filipino cuisine, and a small glimpse into Filipino life.

Picnic Basket rating: 5 out of 5.

Anonymous said...

Rating 4
I would recommend this book without reservation. I enjoyed the story line of the younger sister who is envious of her siblings’ abilities to do the grown-up jobs. Finally Cora gets her chance to show that she is ready to help mom with the cooking. Cora and Mom get some special time together while Cora learns cooking skills and about her family heritage as well. The illustrations are well done and the frequent inclusion of the family dog will catch the eye of young readers. Information about Filipino culture, the inclusion of a glossary of Tagalog words, and the recipe for pancit, make this a nice multi-cultural addition to any elementary library.
Anne S., Elementary (K-8) Librarian

Mrs. Stearns said...

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore is a charming multicultural book that will be a welcome addition to any literature collection. Cora is the youngest child in a family where everyone cooks. When Cora finally gets the chance to help with the grown-up part of cooking she decides to make Pancit, a delicious Filipino noodle dish. This book tells of a loving family and their culinary heritage. This well-illustrated book includes a glossary of some of the Tagalog words used in the story as well as the recipe for Pancit. I think this book deserves a high 5 rating.

El said...

This is a beautiful book! The illustrations are superb. Valiant captures the beauty of the little girl, her family, their expressions, and their love for each other and the food. The story is perfect for reading aloud to budding little chefs. It also offers an interesting lesson on Filipino culture through food. This is a great addition to any library. 5/5

Pat K. said...

What a wonderful book! It is a simple story that young children can relate to - wanting to help Mom in the kitchen. More importantly, it will enrich the study of different cultures or of immigrants who have come to America. Loved the illustrations also. It's definitely a 5.

EShay said...

What an adorable little girl who goes through so much that younger children do. It was a very lighthearted book with an interesting look into a culture many are unaware of. The recipe at the end was an excellent touch. It was a cute book with charming illustrations, but the cultural words might be a bit difficult for picture book readers.

I give it a 4.5

Danielle said...

Cora Cooks Pancit is a delightful book about a young girl named Cora who wants to help her mother cook like her older brothers and sisters do and one day when they are all out she gets her wish. The vibrant and colorful illustrations enhance the text and a glossary and recipe are included.
I give it a rating of 5 out of 5.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Kristi Valiant's illustrations! The lines of each illustration created such fun movement, and the warm, vibrant colors made me and the class feel like we were there in the kitchen with Cora wrapped in all the delicious smells of Filipino cooking. I loved that a recipe and glossary were included which served as terrific extensions for our Read Aloud. It is a wonderful book to open up a discussion about different cultures and especially how closely cooking and food is connected to one's culture. Cora Cooks Pancit opens the door to many different avenues for learning about culture and family. I give this books a 5/5!

Natalie said...

This is a beautiful book. I just loved the illustrations. I know this is a book my first graders will enjoy because of how much they enjoy helping adults just as Cora does. 4.5

Kathy Farrington, librarian said...

While I do not have a Filipino population in my school, this book still fills a multicultural need. It not only shows Filipino food, it also touches on migrant workers and their lifestyle. While the story was satisfactory and provided enough detail and description to make me want to try cooking pancit (which I might since there is the recipe in the back!), the illustrations are what I really love! I thought Kristi Valiant really captured Cora’s expressions and movements perfectly. The little girl is just adorable and her facial expressions convey to reader exactly how she is feeling. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5. Kathy Farrington, Librarian, Ridge Park Elementary, Conshohocken, PA

Mrs. Horne said...

I showed a video on the Iroquois through "Little Feather's" eyes which reminded me a lot of this book. A great multicultural addition to the classroom, Cora Cooks Pancit really brings home the message that we are all alike in many ways - despite our differences.

I actually am adding this to my home library for my son because I like it so much!

Picnic Basket Rating: 5/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

STacey Dever said...

I loved this book. It brings to life the cultural differences between different families and peoples. After reading the story, my kids wanted to make the Pancit. So glad the reciepe is in the back of the book. This book really show how different families work and operate. Great way to bring cultural diversity into the classroom.

janew said...

Ah, a rite of passage for Cora as she learns how to make pancit. The reader will delight in Cora's experiences and share the joy of her successes. The illustrations capture Cora's exuberance in full color. Included is the full recipe for pancit as well as the the much welcomed pronunciation guide and glossary. Lots of curricula connections.Kudos!

janew said...

Readers will delight in Cora's rite of passage as she learns to cook pancit with her mom. Readers will recognize her exuberance so deftly captured in the text and illustrations. The pancit recipe completes the book and the added support of not only the glossary but a pronunciation guide is terrific!

Angie said...

I can't wait to share this story with our students. It's a great way to bring in both culture and family relationships. I love the way the mother takes the time to teach Cora stories about her grandparents. She is so proud when she gets to share her final product with her family. I am curious to try the recipe myself, and I am not even much of a cook.

And the little dog in the illustrations is just the cutest addition ever. Kudos to the artist for thinking of it!

5/5 for the story and kid appeal.

San Antonio, TX

Carol said...

The lead captures the reader with this immediate connection to the character Cora, and the experience of that moment. Cora's Filipino family is cooking traditional foods and Cora wishes to be part of the important work. The book seamlessly encompasses family, culture, cooking, and the adult that is waiting to be released from the children who intently watch their grown up models around them. The glossary and the recipe at the end of the book are welcomed surprises and make the reader feel connected to the story that could continue outside the pages of the picture book. The illustrations are vibrant and express the personality of Cora, as curious and sweet, yet comfortable with who she is, though wanting to be part of more. The illustrations are divers in structure, moving between double spread, full bleeds, and vignettes in non suspected places. This book would serve as a good model for a strong character from a diverse background.

Carol Null, K-8 Librarian
Pemetic Elementary School

Heather Hill said...

"Cora Cooks Pancit" is a wonderful story about a younger child wanting to help cook like the older kids. I think this story would be a great jumping off point for students to write about their favorite meal to make or even to learn about Filipino culture. After reading the book to the kids, they would be so excited to actually try the pancit made with the recipe included in the back of the book. The glossary, with pronunciations, is also a really valuable resource.

The added touch in the illustrations of the dog wanting attention from Cora, much like Cora wants the attention of Mom, is adorable. Students will enjoy finding the dog on almost every page.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

ahslibrarian said...

Books about food should always make one want to eat. The ability of any writer to communicate taste into adequate words is as much art as it is a skill. Another desirable outcome of food books is that one is driven to their own kitchen by an irresistable urge to follow in the footsteps of the cook/author. Sounds like a good movie?

Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore has created a children’s book that fulfills all of the above criteria and more. Not only has she created a book about cooking Filipino dishes, but she has shared a story that could have played itself out in kitchens around the world. The idea of daughters (and sons too) watching momma cook and getting to help as a rite of passage is very familiar. However, the connection to family history and one’s cultural heritage is not often so well connected.

That connection to culture is reinforced by Valiant’s illustrations that bring out the vivid colors of noodles, onions, and mushrooms simmering in a dish. Those colors, like the pleasant smells of the food, waft throughout the entire house and book.

Cora Cooks Pancit should appeal to a wide audience of educators, librarians, parents, and foodies. The multicultural aspects of the book and its ability to bring together family make it a necessary inclusion in early learning environments. Most of all, this book will appeal to kids who like to read and then do. Isn’t that the point?

5 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this book. I would definately want it in my picnic basket as a 5. This book is a good book to read to honor Hispanic Heratage month.
This story does a beautiful job of telling the importance of our ancestors and their stories. Through Cora's interest in cooking a family recipe she learns more about her family through her time with her mother.
The reader also has the opportunity to learn new words from the Philipines and the book also includes the recipe.
I also liked how the illistrater add Cora's dog to the pictures and how her cooking with her mother affected him

Anja said...

My third grade gifted students loved this book. Would like to try the recipe with them sometime.

Great multicultural book which should be in every classroom/library. Shows that the struggle to grow up is universal.