The Perfect Sushi

Barefoot Bks. Apr. 2023. 24p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781646868377.
K-Gr 2–Miko (black hair, light brown skin) is a perfectionist, so of course she wants to make her grandmother’s favorite dish, perfect sushi, for Babi’s birthday. With hand-painted, textured-paper collage and a bright but peaceful color palette, the illustrations show a familiar and comforting home: laundry basket, stuffed animals, house plants, paints. What might be less familiar to some is sushi and, while the text allows for readers to seamlessly absorb Japanese words like Babi, Jiji, and Koroko, and sounds—gyu fwa gyu and koro koro kuru—it never really explains sushi and nigiri. “She takes a slice of fish and places it on top. She adjusts the topping.” Does topping referring to the fish or to something unseen in the illustration? “Something doesn’t look right,” but readers will not understand why it isn’t perfect. The sushi in the illustration looks great. Six pages later Jiji shows Miko how to make the sushi, and when it still turns out “lopsided” readers learn what the problem has been all along. Still, the message of family and food and the importance of doing something from the heart is loud and clear, and the illustrations are so lovely, few readers will have such qualms. A recipe at the end offers further interactions and more about sushi.
VERDICT A solid purchase, and one that will look great on display.

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