Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando

Andrea Wang, illus. by Kana Urbanowicz. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-499-80703-5
Struck by the plight of civilians queuing miserably for food in postwar Japan, Taiwanese-born inventor Momofuku Ando has a revelation: “The world is peaceful only when everyone has enough to eat.” He vows to create food so inexpensive and easy to prepare that everyone can buy it—the food we know today as instant ramen. Wang (The Nian Monster) outlines Ando’s methodical search, including his failures: “The noodles were too crumbly. Or too sticky. Or too lumpy.” He also has to work out how to infuse soup flavor into the noodles, and how to make noodles that can be softened by boiling water alone. Vivid artwork by debut artist Urbanowicz uses a clear line style to combine documentary seriousness with humor, drawing Ando eyeing a piece of his wife’s tempura, wondering whether deep-frying the noodles will allow boiling water to penetrate them. (It does.) Persistence is at the heart of this success story as Ando presses on despite numerous setbacks. And, starry-eyed as it may sound, the goal of peace through food seems important—and possible—by the story’s end. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2019
Release date: 03/05/2019
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