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A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year * A NCSS 2023 Notable Social Studies Trade Book
What was the pandemic of the century like at the start? This swift, gripping novel captures not only the uncertainty and panic when COVID first emerged in Wuhan, but also how a community banded together.
Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.
Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.
Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home.
Ying Compestine is an award-winning author, speaker, and television host. She has authored twenty-five books for adults and children, including the acclaimed novel Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, which chronicles her experience of growing up in China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. A leading national authority on Asian culture and cuisine and the former food editor for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine, Ying is frequently invited to lecture at schools and organizations around the world. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. Visit her at yingc.com.
"American middle schoolers may not have given much thought to the origins of the current pandemic, so this makes a useful . . . reminder that worry, food management, social isolation, and short tempers are shared globally. So too, however, are creative thinking and volunteerism, and Compestine tacitly suggests the best way to help is with your own passion and skill set." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"A unique and poignant tale about the early days in epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. . . . In addition to eliciting hope and compassion, Compestine’s creative and genuine storytelling offers up numerous windows into Chinese culture." — Booklist
"The simple story is a bridge builder across geography and culture, universal in its themes of family and community through the global pandemic, encouraging empathy, introspection, and optimism. . . . Endearing, hopeful, and sure to make your mouth water." — Kirkus Reviews