Boy Dumplings Satisfies with a New Spin on a Familiar Tale

Boy Dumplings by Ying Chang Compestine is a clever and inventive retelling of the stone soup story that has some roots in Chinese culture. On a dark night, a young boy out walking is captured by a hungry ghost who plans to eat him up. The boy tricks the ghost into traveling far and wide to gather up the items need for a delicious boy dumpling recipe.  Once the ghost has done this, the real work begins: washing the boy, rubbing his feet and setting him down for a long nap. All this is done to buy time while the boy waits for the night to pass away. As the sun rises the boy throws open the curtains, melting the ghost and capturing him in a rooster lantern.

You’ll laugh out loud at the ridiculous and ironic lengths the lazy ghost goes to in order to follow the boy’s directions. Those familiar with the stone soup story will recognize the themes of stalling for time and creating a diversion in the recipe, but the elements included here make the story fresh and new. Having the foundation of the story rooted in the Ghost Festival of the Chinese calendar, when Chinese people leave food offerings for ghost that are supposed to roam the streets during this time, gives the story a broader cultural reference.

Great story with colorful illustrations by James Yamasaki that would be perfect during the Ghost Festival, Halloween or any time of year. Included on the last page is a recipe for your own (boy free) dumplings.

Boy Dumplings by Ying Chang Compestine; illustrated by James Yamasaki; Holiday House; 2009; $16.95

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