Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hiromi's Hands by Lynne Barasch

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 30 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (March 2007)

Whenever I go into a sushi restaurant, I always admire the art of sushi making and the dedication of the sushi chefs who so carefully practice their craft. I have not however, ever seen a female sushi chef, so when I received a copy of Hiromi's Hands, I was very eager to read it.

Told from the point of view of Hiromi, the story starts in Japan when her father was a young boy apprenticed to a sushi chef. After many years of training and practice, he gets the opportunity to be a sushi chef in the United States, where he settles, meets his wife, and has a daughter, Hiromi. Hiromi's father works very long hours, and when she gets older, she convinces her father to take her along to the fish market and then to his restaurant. Soon, she's a sushi chef in training and eventually becomes one of the first female sushi chefs in the United States.

Along the way we learn a little about Japanese culture and traditions as Hiromi attends Japanese school on the weekends. We also learn what hard work it takes to become a sushi chef. Lynne Barasch's ink and watercolor illustrations of yummy sushi make me hungry, but I would have liked to have seen real pictures of the Suzuki's, especially since Hiromi is a lifelong friend of Barasch's daughter.

Overall, this is a good book that many children will enjoy and would make a good choice for introducing Japanese culture and also introducing stories of successful women who dared to break the mold.

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