Home in a Lunchbox

Penguin Workshop. Jun. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593661345.
PreS-Gr 2–In a moving picture book debut, a young Cantonese immigrant finds a way to make friends in her new home through the power of food. The opening illustrations show a bright Asian cityscape with fireworks illuminating the sky fading into an American suburban neighborhood with nondescript houses and a moving van on the street. Borrowing from graphic novels, panel illustrations with speech bubbles adeptly show Jun’s attempts at speaking to classmates. Full-page illustrations with muted colors coupled with excellent and detailed facial expressions convey Jun’s homesickness contrasted with bright illustrations to show the other kids laughing and happy while she struggles. When she opens her lunchbox and thinks about her old home, colorful fireworks appear and she is seen looking overjoyed sharing food with friends and family in her old life. After a few days, three kids join her table; she shares her food and they share theirs, including pizza and hamburgers. The final spread shows her walking home with her new friends and her mom preparing a spread of Asian food and tea for them to enjoy. Back matter asks relevant questions in English and both Hangul and spoken Cantonese.
VERDICT Inspired by Mo’s move from Hong Kong to the United States at the age of 10, this remarkable story about finding comfort in a new home by bringing along familiar traditions is a must-purchase for picture book collections and will resonate with any child who has struggled to fit in.

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