cover image Everybody Cooks Rice

Everybody Cooks Rice

Norah Dooley. Carolrhoda Books, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87614-412-1

Carrie canvasses the neighborhood, trying to round up her younger brother in time for dinner. Every household she visits represents a different ethnic heritage--Fendra Diaz's grandmother lives in Puerto Rico, Madame Bleu hails from Haiti, the Huas have emigrated from China, etc. All the families are either preparing or consuming dinner, and Carrie discovers that despite divergent backgrounds, ``everybody cooks rice.'' The multicultural smorgasbord she samples includes rice and black-eyed peas from Barbados, biryani from India, Vietnamese nuoc cham . However correct politically, Dooley's first book is like food for an invalid: wholesome indeed but numbingly bland. Her plot unfolds in an atmosphere of vacant inevitability and her writing lacks style. Thornton's static illustrations, meanwhile, recall the false harmony of Sally, Dick and Jane. Recipes for the rice dishes are included, but most young readers will prefer to sink their teeth into a more highly seasoned story. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)