When our daughter entered kindergarten oh those many years ago (she’s a teenager already!), she almost immediately started to get hassled about her lunches … “ewww, what’s THAT?” was heard often enough that she quickly got used to explaining exactly what she was eating, usually some smorgasbord of mostly Korean fare. Even at five, our daughter was not easily perturbed and enjoyed being a little different.
Still, when the comments began to multiply as other kids jumped on the “ewww”-bandwagon, I swooped into that classroom armed with a full Korean meal (thankfully made delicious by my nearby parents – I’m worthless in the kitchen). Yes, kimchi and all!
The kids – no surprise – gobbled everything all up almost immediately, competing with teachers and administrators who followed their noses, and left with heaping plates. Parents started calling me with “where did you get the …” and “my kid never eats ‘x’ but he loved yours …” etc. etc. And thus a regular, annual tradition began … every year, at least twice a year, in both our kids’ classes, Korean food is enjoyed with hungry, happy anticipation.
That’s what this adorable story is all about: the “ewwww” reaction turned completely around to ‘please, may I have some more?’ Why not cement a friendship with bellies full of unfamiliar and delicious foods? Lily and Salma, two little girls who share everything except their very different lunches, learn what true friendship means … through their bellies. Happy bellies can indeed lead to lasting peace … even for us old fogies!
Queen Rania Al Abdullah, recognized internationally as a major advocate of children’s rights and education, makes a delightful book debut with the help of seasoned children’s writer Kelly Dipucchio. The story, apparently inspired by the Queens’ own childhood, is whimsically captured by Tricia Tusa – flying pigtails, nose-to-freckles-anger, looming principals in shady light, hugs on tip-toe, and so much more. The final open-out spread of international foods is a toothsome testament to the power of tolerance and diversity … hungry anyone?