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How My Parents Learned to Eat (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin books) Paperback – April 27, 1987


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How My Parents Learned to Eat (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin books) + Everybody Cooks Rice (Carolrhoda Picture Books)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 450L (What's this?)
  • Series: Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 27, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395442354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395442357
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book is wonderfully thought-provoking in its portrayal of the subtle similarities and differences among cultures." School Library Journal, Starred

About the Author

Allen Say was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1937. He dreamed of becoming a cartoonist from the age of six, and, at age twelve, apprenticed himself to his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. For the next four years, Say learned to draw and paint under the direction of Noro, who has remained Say's mentor. Say illustrated his first children's book -- published in 1972 -- in a photo studio between shooting assignments. For years, Say continued writing and illustrating children's books on a part-time basis. But in 1987, while illustrating THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (Caldecott Honor Medal), he recaptured the joy he had known as a boy working in his master's studio. It was then that Say decided to make a full commitment to doing what he loves best: writing and illustrating children's books. Since then, he has written and illustrated many books, including TREE OF CRANES and GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal. He is a full-time writer and illustrator living in Portland, Oregon.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I remembered this story from when I was young, first seeing it on Reading Rainbow.
Andrea L. Wilson
The substance of the story is what counts, that cultural differences can be overcome, and true friendship (and love) conquers all!
Deepa Nirmal
The book illustrates the cultural differences and similarities of Japanese and Americans.
Kimberly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By slomamma on July 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
A bi-racial child tells the story of how her Japanese mother and American father met, fell in love, struggled to understand each other's ways, and finally married. It's a wonderful portrait of diversity, showing children that superficial differences in cultures don't really mean much and shouldn't get in the way of people appreciating each other. But just as important to me is the fact that this is one of the few children's books I know of that shows adults falling in love in a realistic way - no fairy tale, love at first sight kind of thing, but a picture of love growing as two people learn more about each other. Those two qualities - its appreciation of cultural diversity and its honest portrait of love - make it a little gem.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
This story is narrated by a bright little girl who describes how her parents met and adapted to one another's cultures. A bright, beautiful child, the girl is blond like her American father and has beautiful Asian features she inherited from her Japanese mother. She tells the story of how they came to sit at the family table.

An American sailor meets a woman in Japan and is instantly smitten. Their attraction is mutual; however each worries about being able to adapt to the other's culture. The sailor learns to eat with chopsticks and the woman in turn learns to eat with a knife, fork and spoon. She approaches her grandfather, a kind, scholarly man who teaches her the British way of handling western utensils. Still she worries because her fiance is American.

They meet again; their transcultural love shows they really have more common grounds than differences. Each is moved by the other's willingness to learn the other's culture and the results are heartwarming indeed.

Their daughter joins them and all readers at the Table of Brotherhood which once again proves that people really have more in common than they do differences.

This is such a wonderful book. I love it! I think it belongs in all homes and classrooms because it is an excellent example of cultural harmony and pride.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on August 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
The author of this Reading Rainbow Selection is wise; she knows how eating styles and habits can separate people and be inhibiting. The narrator recalls how her parents met: a white American sailor and a Japanese woman from the port city of Yokohama. The girl tells the reader that some days, in her house, they eat with chopsticks, and on some days with knives and forks. In the clear, muted watercolors, the reader finds her eating with chopsticks with a rice cooker on the first page, and eating with a knife and fork with a toaster on the last. Somewhat like O. Henry's story, The gift of the Magi, the sailor is too embarrassed to eat with Aiko, since he cant use chopsticks. And Aiko is frightened to eat with John, for she has never used a fork. But the port call is ending in a few weeks, so both rush to learn the other's ways, and an eating date is finally arranged. Love conquers all.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Larisa Thomason on June 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book is very obviously about the parents' relationship - but from their child's perspective.
It teaches respect for other cultures by showing two people who care about one another enough to overlook their differences.
The narrator (the daughter) is very matter-of-fact about her cultural mix - cheerfully noting that some days they eat with knives and forks and some days with chopsticks.
My 6-year-old daughter loves it so much that she demanded to be taught to use chopsticks so we have an "Asian dinner night" once per week.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"How My Parents Learned To Eat" presents Japanese and American cultures in a story. The readers read about the cultural values through a little girl's first person narrative. From her telling, the readers will understand Japanese customs in its cultural context, such as bowing for greeting and drinking soup from the bowl. These concepts may be foreign or even funny to Americans who are unfamiliar Japanese culture. The author, however, successfully weave elements from both Ameriacn and Japanese cultures into the story. The respect for both Japanese and American cultures is also evident in the book. Not only did the mother (Japanese) want to learn the Western way of eating, but the father (American) is also willingly to learn the Japanese way of eating. So, in the end of the story, the little girl says again, "That's why at our house some days we eat with chopsticks and some days we eat with knives and forks" (p. 32).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly VINE VOICE on December 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
In How My Parents Learned to Eat, the author takes us on a journey to Japan in which an American sailor meets a Japanese high school girl. The narrator of the story is their daughter and she starts off saying, "In our house, some days we eat with chopsticks and some days we eat with knives and forks. For me, it's natural." The book illustrates the cultural differences and similarities of Japanese and Americans. John, the American sailor desperately wants to invite Aiko, the Japanese schoolgirl to dinner. However he is afraid since he does not know how to use chopsticks. Aiko, thinks that John is ashamed of asking her to dinner since she does not know how to use a fork and knife. Both secretly learn how to eat in each other's ways.

This book presents a very good view of life and culture in Japan (and some of America) while also introducing young children into basic table manners. We learn in the book the precise way to eat with spoons, knives, and forks, and we also learn the basics for using chopsticks. The culture of Japan is fully shown as well from all the signs being written in traditional Japanese characters to the mentioning of traditional clothes (the kimono). We are also introduced into how Asians drink soup-they drink from the bowl, which here in the United States would be considered inappropriate. Pictures of Japanese food and what they are called are also introduced to young children. The differences in how Americans and Japanese greet people are also touched upon as well. However what I liked most was the illustrations of the first and last pages of the book. The first page depicts their daughter in traditional Japanese clothing eating Japanese food with chopsticks, and with a rice cooker behind her. The last page of the book shows her in Western clothing eating steak and mashed potatoes with a toaster behind her. By this the book demonstrates an appreciation for both cultures.
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