auntie yang’s great soybean picnic

Get in line and fill up your plates! Join the picnic!

How I love love love this picture book, let me count the ways. It was actually love at first sight. I squealed when I first saw the title. “Auntie Yang?!”

Well, I just happen to have six Auntie Yangs and many fond memories of eating boiled soybeans just like the characters in the story. We had some lovely family picnics as well, though most of them were at the beach rather than in a relative’s back yard in the Midwest.

Just released in April, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic (Lee & Low, 2012) was inspired by sisters Ginnie and Beth Lo’s childhood memories of their Auntie Yang who lived in Illinois.

As narrator Jinyi tells it, she, her little sister Pei and their parents often visited Auntie and Uncle Yang and their cousins, who lived a long car drive away. Both sets of parents had left China to study at American universities. They abandoned plans to return to their home country when the war made it too dangerous. So they stayed in Illinois and Indiana, raising their families in an area with very few Chinese Americans. All the more reason to stay close and visit each other as often as possible, so that the four cousins could grow up “as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod.”

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