LaMotte, Lily

Measuring Up

(2) 4-6 Illustrated by Ann Xu & Sunmi. In this encouraging--and nourishing--graphic novel, twelve-year-old Cici's family moves to Seattle from Taiwan, taking her away from her beloved A-má, who has always nurtured Cici's interest in cooking. After starting at a new school and feeling lonely--despite some well-meaning but culturally clueless new friends--Cici enters a cooking competition for the prize money: she wants to buy A-má a plane ticket to Seattle for her seventieth birthday. Her competition partner dismisses Cici's Taiwanese culinary expertise in favor of her own knowledge of Italian cuisine, but she comes to appreciate Cici's kitchen prowess, and they bond outside of the competition. The narration occasionally sounds stilted ("That drummer sure can jam") but becomes more natural as our protagonist grows more self-assured. Chapter-heading decorations slowly bloom into fully formed cherry blossoms, gently symbolizing Cici's development and newfound confidence and also hinting at an imminent reunion with her A-má. Simple line art and minimal backgrounds are enlivened through expert coloring by Xu and Sunmi. The warmest images appear when Cici creates her dishes for the competition and deeply connects with friends and family.


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