Author: Alan Woo
Illustrator: Isabelle Malefant
Synopsis: (Taken from GoodReads.com)Poor Maggie struggles to master her chopsticks — it seems nearly everyone around the dinner table has something to say about the “right” way to hold them! But when Father reminds her not to worry about everyone else, Maggie finally gets a grip on an important lesson.
I have to admit, when I went to get the synopsis off of GoodReads (as I went sent a virtual copy for review), I was surprised at how “low” I felt the rating for this book was. I think their reviews must have been based on the fact that they may not have been the targeted audience.
For Maggie’s Chopsticks is geared towards young kids, ages 2-7 (in my personal opinion), and elementary/homeschool teachers. If you look at this novel based on teaching strategies and methods, you will find that it would be an amazing addition to any classroom and/or home library.
On the surface, Maggie’s Chopsticks has amazingly beautiful illustrations. Maybe it was because I read the book on an HD tablet device (the Nexus 7), but I was in awe at the vibrancy of the pictures.
The story revolves around a traditional Chinese family, with Maggie being the youngest. Old enough to start using chopsticks, she feels a bit defeated when her siblings and family members tell her she is “doing it wrong”. Instead of throwing a fit and/or giving up, Maggie becomes even more determined to learn how to use the chopsticks.
Maggie’s Chopsticks is a simple story with beautiful illustrations, a peak into another culture, and a wonderful moral to discuss and share with our young ones. I feel that, as a teacher, it would supply the classroom with an abundance of conversation and classroom activities. Can you imagine, as I do, a classroom full of 5 and 6 year old kindergarteners learning how to use chopsticks? Especially in a culture (America) when it is not the norm?
Activities could involve creating a classroom graph of hypotheses as to which students believe that they can use chopsticks (and that it will be easy) vs students who believe that it would be too difficult. A follow up graph of actual results can happy after children explore picking up their snacks with their chopsticks. What else, in their lives, was difficult to do at first but with practice and patience, they finally mastered it? (I.E. Writing, reading, riding a bike, doing a cartwheel, etc.)
A center can be created with a box of items for children to try picking up with their chopsticks. Such items can be centered around the Asian culture, involving dried rice (as to not go bad with continual use), and play vegetables. There are so many ways to integrate this “simple” (as other reviewers called it) book into a classroom.
In my opinion, Maggie’s Chopsticks, is a wonderful addition to any Pre-K to 2nd grade classroom. I really cannot stress that enough. I believe that both teachers and students would enjoy it; not only for its beautiful pictures, but for the feeling it gives of being able to conquer anything with a little patience and determination.