Dear Charlie and Jack,

Inspired by the recent Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I made a pact with myself to read you more books that feature children of color and to review them, with your help, for the Sawaga River Press that I have founded. So, here’s our first, with special reviews from Jack’s preschool friends.

Cora Cooks Pancit
By Dorina Lazo Gilmore
Illustrated by Kristi Valiant

About (Spoiler Alert!):
Cora dreams of helping out in the kitchen. One day, her mother asks for Cora’s help and lets Cora decide what to cook. Cora chooses to cook her favorite dish, pancit noodles. Cora finally gets to do the grown up job of slicing the vegetables, shredding the chicken, and stirring the noodles. While cooking, Mama tells Cora about Cora’s Lolo (grandfather) who was also a cook when he was a young man working in the California farms. At dinner time, everyone compliments Cora on her pancit and her father says her pancit tastes just as good as her grandfather’s.

Jack’s Favorite Page:CoraCooksPancit_FoodPartyPage
When asked which dish she would like to cook, Cora imagines Lumpia prancing, Adobo chicken legs be-bopping, and Pancit noodles and vegetables curling and swirling in a dance party. Clearly, Cora belongs to a Filipino-American household who loves to eat, dance, and party.

Mama’s Favorite Tidbit:
The Filipino and American flags on the fridge.

The Story Within the Story:
Cora’s mother tells a story about Cora’s Lolo who was a cook for the farm workers in California and his life as a boy growing up in the Philippines. This provides for an opportunity for readers to engage in some conversation about different cultures, immigration, and Filipino American history, especially as it relates to the Manongs (older Filipino men) and their contribution to California farming and union formation.

The Color:
The book looks and feels like yellow, just like the pancit noodles.

Teaching Moments:
The story encourages young kids to participate in household chores. It also presents cooking as a task enjoyed by both “girls” and “boys”.

What the Kids Say:
“I like it when she licks the spoon… and sneaks a bite of the chicken before Mama could see!”

“I don’t like it when she spilled the water but I’m glad her Mama wasn’t mad.”

“I like this book! Can we give it to our school so I can read it there?”


(Jack presenting the book to his schoolmates at his 4 and half birthday. We donated a copy to the preschool library. We hope many more kids will enjoy it as much as we did.)