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 "
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."
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.
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.
PRAISE FOR CORA COOKS PANCIT:
"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
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