For a lively, happy bedtime story, look no further than Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Shen’s Books, 2009). Cora has always had to watch her older brother and sisters helping with the “grown-up jobs” in the kitchen but she’s certainly been taking it all in (well, almost!). And when one day she is alone in the kitchen with her mother, her dreams come true! First she gets to choose pancit for that day’s evening meal – and then she gets to really help, as opposed to just licking spoons… Later, with the family gathered round the table to eat, comes Cora’s moment of reckoning:
“Did she do everything right? Would they like it? Would Mama tell about the accident with the noodles?”
Young listeners will be just as anxious as Cora to find out – and the gorgeous illustration on the next page with a delighted Cora standing on her chair, holding the apron she’s still wearing, says it all.
There is so much love wrapped up in the tone of the writing and the glow of the illustrations (both in terms of the use of light and the expressive faces of the characters) that little ones will fall asleep basking in its warmth – and they’ll also have enjoyed a chuckle at the antics of the family dog, whose pile of soft toys seems to get bigger and bigger as the story progresses.
But as well as being a great bedtime story, Cora Cooks Pancit is likely to find its way into the kitchen so that children can use the recipe provided to make pancit themselves (with the help of an adult, of course: this is indeed “proper” cooking). Unsurprisingly, Jama Rattigan has a wonderful post about the book, including several illustration spreads – and thanks to Jama, I have also discovered Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore’s mouth-watering blog Health-full. The book has obviously touched a chord with pancit-lovers of all ages – I enjoyed reading this, this and this.
Also, with our current focus on the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora continuing until the end of the month, head on over to the PaperTigers website for a full review of Cora Cooks Pancit, as well as an interview with Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore by Tarie Sabido.
And if you have enjoyed reading Cora Cooks Pancit or other similarly themed books with your children, do tell us about it!