Friday, February 17, 2012

Book #48: Yoko by Rosemary Wells

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Yoko’s mother has packed her favorite lunch, sushi. Yoko can’t wait to eat it, but at lunch all the other kids pull out sandwiches and make fun of Yoko, “Ick! It’s green! It’s seaweed!” Yoko ends lunch crying in the coat closet. The teacher, Mrs. Jenkins is concerned and decides to hold International Food Day. She sends a note home asking the children to bring in a dish from a foreign country, “Everyone must try a bite of everything!” On Monday the enchiladas, potato knishes, and nut soup are gone in a flash, but no one tries Yoko’s sushi. As everyone rushes outside for recess, Yoko notices Timothy attempting to use the chopsticks to eat the sushi. Together they finish off the entire box of sushi. The next day, Yoko and Timothy decide to push their desks together to make a restaurant. The menu includes sushi and sandwiches.

The book is illustrated in Wells’ signature style (you might be familiar with her immensely popular Max and Ruby books) using bright colors and wide-eye animal characters. The food in the illustrations looks wonderful, and I especially love the sushi filled endpapers. The layout and text are simple, making this a nice book for reading out loud or as a learning to read book.

Lunchtime can be difficult for kids who are vegetarians, have food allergies, or other dietary restrictions. This book can be used to talk about the variety of foods that kids bring to lunch and to celebrate all types of food. After you read the book, ask the kids what their favorite lunch is and make a list on a white/chalk board. Make it a point to focus on the positives of each food mentioned, especially if other kids react negatively.

Best of all, hold your own International Food Day. Have the kids help you prepare by making flags from different countries. When you know what each child is going to bring, have the kids make their own menus that include all the food choices. This is a great craft/activity that allows them to practice their handwriting at the same time. Display the menus around the room.

If you find Yoko as endearing as I do, check out the other Yoko books by Rosemary Wells.


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