It is Yoko's first day at school, so of course her mother wants to send her off with healthy comfort food for lunch--a delectable package of homemade sushi. "Have a wonderful day at school, my Little Cherry Blossom," her mother says as Yoko climbs into the bus. And it would have been, had it not been for lunchtime. Timothy brings a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Tulip has Swiss cheese on rye. The Franks brothers have beans and franks. But when Yoko opens her cooler of rice rolls with "the crispiest cucumber, the pinkest shrimp, the greenest seaweed, and the tastiest tuna," one of the Franks brothers announces, "Ick. It's green. It's seaweed." Tulip and Fritz chime in, "Yuck-o-rama."
Rosemary Wells (Voyage to the Bunny Planet), with her expressive, bright-eyed, chubby-cheeked animal kingdom, has once again successfully tapped into the emotional world of children. The embarrassment of bringing an uncool lunch to school! What child hasn't wanted to hide under the cafeteria table when caught with a gooey enchilada or a slice of vegetarian lentil loaf? Fortunately, Yoko's teacher concocts a plan to stop the teasing. Parents who have more ambitious hopes for their children's lunches than Fritos, PB&Js, and Oreos will be relieved to discover that the happy ending does not include Yoko's giving up her comfort meal or, more importantly, her heritage. (Ages 4 and older) --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Yoko the kitten has gone off to her school with her willow-covered cooler filled with sushi, looking forward to a good day. But her classmates tease her mercilessly when lunch time rolls around ("Ick!... It's seaweed!"). Even worse, during the class Snack Time Song, the two bulldogs who brought franks and beans for lunch snort, "Red bean ice cream is for weirdos!" A pat ending seems in sight when Yoko's wise teacher plans an International Food Day and requires the students to try everything. But only hungry Timothy (a raccoon) is brave enough to taste Yoko's sushi?and yet this proves to be enough for Yoko. By book's end, Timothy and Yoko are fast friends, planning to open their very own lunch-time restaurant featuring tomato sandwiches and dragon rolls. As usual, Wells demonstrates a remarkable feel for children's small but important difficulties. Like the just-right text, her expressive watercolors, both panels and full-scale, capture a distinctive variety of animal children as well as the nuances in Yoko's expressions. Wells's message is clear without being heavy-handed, making this brightly colored schoolroom charmer a perfect book for those American-melting-pot kindergartners who need to develop a genuine respect for one another's differences. Ages 3-7.
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