cover image Lunch from Home

Lunch from Home

Joshua David Stein, illus. by Jing Li. Rise x Penguin Workshop, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-5933-8445-9

The contributors credited in this picture book, Niki Russ Federman, Ray Garcia, Preeti Mistry, and Mina Park, are all professional chefs, but they were also once kids encountering peers—and the “lunchbox moment”—when each brought their family’s culture to school in the form of packed lunches. These meals are lovingly described by Stein and depicted in vibrant color by Li in this epicurean picture book. For Preeti, it’s “soft dhokla cake, topped with fried spices called vagar, and a side of bright mango pickles”; for Mina, it’s gimbap; Niki has an everything bagel with lox; and Ray arrives with a cheese, hot dog, and scrambled egg burrito. Stung by “weird,” “stinky,” and other judgmental words, the children briefly insist that their families provide only “regular sandwiches” going forward. But monotony, combined with burgeoning identities nurtured in the family kitchen, creates an unstoppable force: the kids not only choose their favorite foods, they become passionate advocates for culinary inclusion, too. Ages 3–6. (Aug.)