Remember Andrea Cheng’s The Year of the Book? I had picked it up thinking my second girlie might be up for it, but it was just a bit much for a six-year-old, so I passed it on to her older sister? Well, my nine-year-old enjoyed the book and followed the directions for making a drawstring bag that were included in the back; she gave the finished product to my hubby for Father’s Day, and I was honestly impressed. I would never have tackled a project like that without help or supervision, and she asked for none–she did it all on her own, and it looks like a serviceable drawstring bag instead of a nine-year-old’s craft project. How awesome is that?
Fast forward to the next Anna Wang novel, The Year of the Baby, which I finished the other day. Besides being fully as delightful as the original (Anna’s family has adopted a baby girl from China who is happy but doesn’t want to eat and therefore losing weight; Anna and her friends are able to help in an unexpected way), it also has directions in the back–this time for making “Steamed Red Bean Bao Zi,” for which you need red bean paste. (You also need a steamer, but we’ll see if the one in my rice cooker manages.) Now that I’ve finished the book, it goes down into my oldest’s pile, and I’m fairly confident that when she reads it we will end up buying red bean paste at an Asian food store and giving the recipe a try.
In the meantime, if you didn’t give the first book a try when I reviewed it, you really ought to do it now. Cheng does a lovely job of creating three dimensional characters, drawing even her snotty girls with balance and compassion. The series is thoroughly enjoyable so far, and the illustrations add a delightful touch. Don’t miss these books!