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Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic
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Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  231 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
A Chinese American girl's Auntie Yang discovers soybeans a favorite Chinese food growing in Illinois, and their family starts a soybean picnic tradition that grows into an annual community event.

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Lee & Low Books
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Lisa Vegan
This is a lovely picture book story with really appealing pictures.

It’s a great story for readers looking for intergenerational family stories, cross-cultural and immigration stories, stories of family traditions, and also to learn a bit about soybeans.

Though it’s a “based on” story, I consider this more non-fiction than fiction. In the back of the book there are photographs of the people in the story. There is a helpful glossary that I wish had been in the front of the book. The additional info
Mary Ann
Capturing warmth and family love, sisters Ginnie Lo and Beth Lo have created another picture book about a moment in their childhood. As in Mahjong All Day Long (Walker, 2005), Beth Lo illustrates the story with delicately painted ceramic plates. Because they were one of the few Chinese American families in their area, the Lo sisters treasured their visits to see heir mother’s sister, Auntie Yang, and her family outside Chicago. Keeping a sense of their Chinese culture was important, and “Mama sa ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
By the time I finished reading this I was hungry for boiled soybeans! Set in Illinois in the 1940s, this story is based on the author's childhood memories. On visiting her Auntie and Uncle Yang one summer, they discovered that a farmer nearby was growing soybeans. This caused them great joy, because they missed all the soybean dishes they used to eat in China, and the discovery was like restoring a piece of China to them. The farmer let them pick some beans, which he had been growing for livesto ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Interesting slice of Chinese life in the late 50s and 60s. The illustrations, were created by painting with ceramic underglazes on handmade round porcelain plates.
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This story is based on the author and illustrator's experiences growing up in the Midwest. Chinese culture, cuisine, and family ties are celebrated in the frequent extended family gatherings.

"The illustrations were created by painting with ceramic underglazes on handmade porcelain plates, which were then fired." This is an usual format, but it really works here.

At the end of the story, the author and illustrator's provide an amplified explanation of their family's history and the popular annual
Margo Tanenbaum
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this picture book for older readers, the author remembers growing up in the American midwest, in rural Indiana, at a time when there were few other Chinese families around. When she sees her Chinese cousins in Chicago, they have Chinese lessons, time to play, and lots of dumplings. While driving from Indiana to Chicago, they discover a farmer growing soybeans, a food they dearly missed from China. They are thrilled and a tradition is born. They pick soybeans from the befuddled farmer (at the ...more
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love soybeans! From edamame to tofu, from veggieburgers to soymilk, soy is a staple in my diet and that of many other vegetarians and vegans. I was so happy to see this celebration of the versatile soybean in Chinese culture.

The Chinese family in this story is delighted to find a field of soybeans near their home. With permission from the farmer (who is growing the plants only as animal feed), the family picks some soybeans to feature in their picnic meal. This soon becomes a family tradition
Making a home in a new country can be hard, especially when it's difficult to find your favorite foods. This family story is told by Jinyi. While on a visit to their Auntie Yang's house near Chicago, the family spies a field of soybeans. Auntie Yang persuades the farmer to let her harvest some of them, and the two families enjoy a soybean picnic that reminds them of their home back in China. After that, the picnic becomes an annual event, growing larger every year. Back matter includes family ph ...more
Paul  Hankins
Natural "ladders" to SEEDFOLKS with a woman's discovery of soybeans in an Illinois cornfield that are shared by a farmer who is seemingly unaware of the soybean's cultural significance.

References to Indiana and a town three hours from Chicago might lead to state-based geography lessons.

Beautiful artwork would make this title a welcome addition to titles that celebrate diversity, culture, and community together.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Unique intergenerational story about how one auntie's desire to eat the food of "home" became a community celebration.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This lovely story was inspired by memories of visits to their Auntie Yang's in the Chicago area by the author and illustrator sisters. Auntie Yang made sure their family visited often, so the four cousins would grow up “as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod.”

One Sunday, after dinner, the two families went for a drive, and they discovered a field of soybeans. As the author explains: “In Illinois, soybeans were grown to feed cows and pigs, not people - but in China, soybeans were one of the m
Margaret Boling
10/29/2017 ** This book recounts the memories of the author and illustrator's experiences in Illinois in the 1950s and 60s as Chinese-Americans working to maintain their cultural traditions when far away from home. As I read, I felt the adult voice recounting the events relating to the discovery of soybeans in Illinois farm fields and how that discovery led to the growing tradition of the Great Soybean Picnic that eventually drew dozens of families from the greater Chicago area.

I found the illus
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like this book because it gives a story that many Chinese families can relate to or even families that come from other countries. It is a story about a Chinese family that moved to the U.S. to escape the war but began feeling homesick. They found a field of Soybeans which they had back at home. They started having picnics with different Chinese families and brought their family from China and felt happy. I think this is a great book to use when talking about different cultures. I think ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
While a little wordy, this is a really neat book about a Chinese family living in the Midwest after World War II. Based on true events, it details the author and illustrator sisters' childhood, especially their family's annual soybean picnic. The illustrations are fabulous; I've never seen anything like these paintings on handmade porcelain plates. There's even a neat author and illustrator's note at the end with pictures from actual past picnics. Altogether this was incredibly sweet and satisfy ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tots
Our whole family loved this story and the pictures, too. This is a great one for learning about another culture and about experiences of immigrant families adapting to new worlds, and it's also cool that it's a true story, written and illustrated by the two sisters who are the main characters!
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Beautiful illustrations designed to look like painted plates.
Wordy text.
Chinese-American connection.
Tells the story of a family who finds a taste of home when they drive by a soybean farm one summer. From there, a lovely picnic tradition begins.
Erica Flory
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
great real life story
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Based on a true story this book heralds the friendship of Chinese Americans who find each other in Chicago through their common remembrance of soybeans in China
Lo, G., & Lo, B. (2012). Auntie Yang's great soybean picnic. New York: Lee & Low Books.

Picture Book

This book is based on the real life experiences of two young Chinese American girls and their family. It tells the story of Jinyi and Pei going with their parents to visit Auntie Yang, who lives just outside of Chicago. While driving through rural Illinois, Auntie Yang discovers there are soybeans growing. Soybeans (or mao dou in Mandarin) were a food staple when Auntie Yang was growing up
Jun 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Reflection: Text to Self- The opening of this book reminds me of my childhood. I too spent 2-3 hours traveling to visit my cousins and remember the excitement of getting close and watching impatiently to see my cousins farm house. While this book was about the traditions of a Chinese-American family, in many ways it is very similar to my experiences growing up. My family was and is very close with my extended family and we get together once every month or two.

Rational: This book is culturally s
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mama wanted the cousins to "grow up as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod." This meant that they often visited each other to share the traditions of their native Chinese culture. All the parents had come to the United States to get an education at various universities. They had been unable to return to China due to war. During the visits the children were given Chinese lessons as well as lessons in watercolor painting and paper-folding. The parents played mahjong endlessly and the kids play ...more
Emilia P
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-stuff
Man I wish they would write like 70 more books. This book is about an exponentially expanding soybean picnic that started with the author's aunt and immediate family and grew to include much of the Chicago Chinese community. Back when the Lo sisters were growing up, no one in the U.S. sold soybeans for human consumption. So Auntie Yang asked a farmer who was growing them for animal feed if she could just have some from his fields. He said sure, why not, and so the picnic began. The book ends wit ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read for 5427 class

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic does an excellent job of explaining why their families came to live in America, how much they miss their family back in China, and various Chinese traditions. This intimate peek into their lives grows empathy in non-immigrant readers and provides a wonderful window read for Chinese immigrants. As such, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic is a positive portrayal of Chinese immigrants and inspires young readers to try a new food: soybeans!

Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This wonderful story introduces the reader to one aspect of life for Chinese-American sisters. Jinyi and Pei are excited to visit Auntie Yang and her family. The family travels from Indiana to Chicago to visit several times a year. During one visit they discover that a local farmer is growing soybeans and they create a great feast. This is the beginning of the tradition of the Soybean Picnic near Chicago. Each year more Chinese-American families are invited to the picnic and it grows and grows i ...more
Two couples come to the US from China to study at American colleges and they are stuck because of the conflict of World War II. These two authors have written a picture book about these two, ever-growing, families who visit often from Indiana to Illinois. The main character who hosts is Auntie Yang, and on the way home from a Sunday drive one day, amid the fields of Illinois corn, they discover a field of soybeans. In American, at least then, soybeans were grown only to feed livestock, so the f ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Author Ginnie Lo and illustrator Beth Lo, sisters, share their memories of growing up as Chinese-Americans in the Midwest. Their story centers around Auntie Yang's discovery of her favorite Chinese food- soybeans, found among cornfields. This find inspires Auntie Yang to plan their first soybean picnic, which then becomes a yearly tradition.

What is unique about this picture book is that the illustrations for the book are actually photographs of hand-painted ceramic plates, which lend a clever qu
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic
Ginnie Lo
illustrated by Beth Lo

What a delight to see this offering from Ginnie and Beth Lo, who also brought us the delightful MahJong All Day Long. A picture of Chinese family culture in America, this is the story of Chinese students come to America to go to college, forced to stay because of the war in China. It tells of families who make an effort to stay close to one another so that their children can grow up close. Illustrated in loose watercolors with heav
Crystal Sleeman
Text to Self: Auntie Yang discovering the soybean farm reminds me if when I grew up in Michigan and my mother discovered the berry picking farm down the road. We would pick large ice cream buckets fully of blue berries while we ate the off the bush.
Discussion Questions:
1. What does Baba mean?
2. How would you summarize the preparation of a soybean?
3. What facts would you select to show that the family in this story is close?
4. What conclusions can you draw about this family?
5. What would happen
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interestingly illustrated picture book - all of the illustrations are on ceramic plates and then photographed. The cover image is one of the plates and all of the images are circular.

Set in the 1950s, Jinyi and her family travel to her Auntie Yang's house near Chicago for a visit. One day when they are all out for a drive, Auntie Yang spots a soybean field. They kindly ask the farmer if they may pick some soybeans that they haven't seen since they left China in the 1940s. They pick the soybe
Jul 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture_books
Jinyi and her family always look forward to driving from their home in Indiana to the home of their Auntie and Uncle Yang in Chicago for a visit. One weekend, Aunti Yang discovers a soybean field near their Chicago home. The family takes home a trunkful of soybeans, which are a popular food in their native China, and has their very first soybean picnic. So begins an annual summer tradition that eventually brings together over 200 people for more than 40 years. Quirky, charming illustrations brea ...more
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Beth and Ginnie Lo are sisters (and best friends!). They had a happy Chinese American childhood in West Lafeyette, Indiana, where they learned to play mahjong while sitting on their father's lap. They continue to play to this day. Ginnie, a computer science professor, wrote the story, and Beth, a ceramic arts professor, made the illustrated ceramic plates. This is their first book.

Beth now plays m

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