Author: Andrea Wang
Illustrator: Jason Chen
Genre: Picture Book
Target Ages: 4-8
Prime Audiences: Children of Immigrants; Children Living in a New Place
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Publication Year: 2021
For many if not most of us, food is more than food— food is memory, and certain dishes, their smells and their tastes and their very appearances evoke within our hearts and minds the journey of our lives. And food is family, the sweet and bitter links to one another, and this is the focus of Andrea Wang and Jason Chin's touching picture book Watercress.
Based on her own experiences as a first-gernaration immigrant, Wang describes her story as "an apology and a love letter" to her parents, as her adolescent-aged protagonist reflects Wang's own feelings about having to pick wild watercress by the roadside. Wang's narrative is skillfully seasoned with figurative language and imagery, and Chen's watercolor illustrations capture the tone of both the families present actions and their memories. And though it's a picture book, it's a story than will resonate with older sibling and with parents, a story that will stir their memories and remind them of family recipes, not just the foods but the recipe of how their family came to their present circumstances. Watercress is a literary dish well worth savoring.
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