Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte & Ann Xu, 208 pp, RL 4


Measuring Up 
Purchased from Barnes & Noble

Measuring Up takes all my favorite ingredients (family, food, cooking, cooking competitions, difficult friendships, diverse voices & empathy) and mixes them into a delicious graphic novel that will inspire readers to head to their kitchens and leave them wondering if they, too, might be supertasters...

We first meet twelve-year-old Cici as her family is preparing to move from their small hometown in Taiwan, leaving behind her beloved A-má. Before she leaves, A-má gives Cici her special spice mix, one that her grandmother passed down to her when she was a girl. Settled in Seattle, Cici works to adjust to everything new, while also secretly plotting to fly A-má to America for her seventieth birthday. A cooking contest for kids (with a cash prize!) at her local kitchen wares store gives Cici the perfect opportunity to win the money for a plane ticket for A-má and surprise her father.

Paired with Miranda, the daughter of a chef who grew up in a kitchen, Cici realizes she needs to learn to cook more than Taiwanese food. Practicing with Miranda in her kitchen and at home with with Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Cici's confidence grows, although her grades slip (to a B+) and her plans almost fall apart when her parents find out. Along the way, Cici makes friends at school, has to navigate an American-style sleepover, micro-aggressions, learning from Miranda and then having to compete against her in the finals. The competition scenes are suspenseful and every bit as entertaining as any cooking competition show I've watched. LaMotte does a superb job when it comes to food, dishes, spices and techniques while also having judges and contestants question the sophistication of Cici's Taiwanese dishes.

To this already full plate, Lamotte and Xu add amazing cooking details that any foodie will gobble up. I especially loved the part of Measuring Up when Miranda suspects Cici might be a supertaster and sets up a spice-taste-test worthy of Top Chef. Xu's excellent illustration shows Cici, the "Spice Sprinter," running a course that has her describing the tastes of fennel, cardamom and marjoram, to name a few. I also especially appreciated Miranda who, despite her talents in the kitchen and the wishes of her very competitive father, secretly wants to be a comic book artist! Miranda loans Cici her copy of American Born Chinese and Cici checks out Scott McCloud's classic, Understanding Comics for Miranda.

Measuring Up is a mouthwatering graphic novel that will leave you hungry for more!



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