cover image Ra Pu Zel and the Stinky Tofu

Ra Pu Zel and the Stinky Tofu

Ying Chang Compestine, illus. by Crystal Kung. Rocky Pond, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-5935-3305-5

Affectionately told and vibrantly illustrated, this empowering “Rapunzel” retelling, set in long ago China, features a determined princess in charge of her own fate. Ra Pu Zel, who loves to cook, wears her hair in a braid. Scolded constantly by the empress for being in the kitchen and taking big bites, she locks herself in a tower and refuses to come down, appearing at the window only to draw up baskets of food the empress ties to her braid. Though the princess enjoys eating and playing her flute in peace, the delicious smells of her meals and the sound of her music attract the interest of princes, who set out to coax her down, until the scent of a unique tofu dish beckons her. Kung’s richly hued scenes shimmer with golden-hour light and communicate the protagonist’s spunk through facial expressions and gestures that, combined with Compestine’s well-paced story, makes for a tale that dishes up delight. An author’s note and recipe conclude. Ages 5–8. (Jan.)