Review of the Day: Bee-Bim Bop
You may wonder why I've been doing so many picture book reviews as of late. The answer is obvious. I am a lazy cuss. Picture books take 5-6 minutes to read. Marvelous books like Frances Hardinge's Fly By Night (more on THAT later) take me several days. And if we're gonna keep up this one review a day thingy, picture books are the obvious answer.
As far as I can ascertain, Linda Sue Park does not sleep. I have good strong evidence for this. Since 2004 this woman has single-handed churned out more picture books, pieces of historical fiction, and fantasy novellas than any person dare count. She wins Newbery awards, brings Korean-American families to the foreground of kiddie lit and with "Bee-bim Bop!" the woman even has a storytime picture book to her name. This is no mean feat. Coming up with a storytime picture book is one thing. Coming up with a storytime picture book that is actually enjoyable to read aloud is another entirely. I was wholly within my rights when I looked on "Bee-bim Bop" with a skeptical eye. A person can only be good at so many things, and while I was a big ole fan of her, "The Firekeeper's Son", it may be a picture book but it's an entirely different breed altogether. "Bim-bim Bop!" is just your average getting dinner on the table type affair, but by the end of the story I wouldn't be entirely surprised if you find your small children begging for that tasty meal themselves. It does look delish.
The story, such as it is, follows a young girl and her mother on a shopping expedition. In rhyme the girl continually prods her mother along with lines like, "Hurry, Mama, hurry / Gotta shop shop shop! / Hungry hungry hungry / for some BEE-BIM BOP!". Back at home the two stir and fry, flip the egg pancakes, set the rice ah-steaming, and chop some garlic and green onions. This goes on with more and more ingredients cooked and added. The table is set with spoons and chopsticks, the family gathers, and it is finally suppertime. Everyone mixes all the ingredients together (the "bee-bim") and chow down on some yummy food. Park includes a recipe for Bee-bim Bop at the end. The cooking instructions are clever separated into the parts that "You" can do (like mixing together ingredients and pouring in the water) and the parts a "Grownup" will have to do as well. There's a rather nice if low-quality photograph of Linda Sue Park and her niece and nephew making this very dish at the end.
The book scans nicely and you won't find yourself tripping over syllables that are a bit too long or phrases that tie up the tongue. The illustrations are by one Ho Baek Lee. Mr. Lee lives in Seoul with his wife and started a children's book publishing company of his own there. His pictures are fine, but not particularly mind-blowing. They show what's going on with a kind of straightforwardness you would expect. There isn't an overabundance of Korean-American picture books out there, but as more and more get published you certainly get a sense that there's a need. Definitely read this book alongside other Korean-American food-centric picture books like, "The Have a Good Day Café" by Frances and Ginger Park. A nice book and a good storytime pick if you're looking for a food themed choice.