Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Dinner That Cooked Itself by J.C. Hsyu and Kenard Pak (Flying Eye Books)

The Dinner That Cooked Itself

Written by J.C. Hsyu
Illustrated by Kenard Pak

Published by Flying Eye Books

It's a feast for the eyes and food for the brain, and no less than we've come to expect from Flying Eye Books who have a real eye for amazing stories and beautiful visuals. "The Dinner That Cooked Itself" is a sumptuous story of a young man named Tuan who grows up on a humble farm, looked after by a kindly couple. Tuan doesn't want for anything and lives in a simple house on a simple plot of land, while taking up a day job as a clerk of court.

Tuan's life is relatively happy, but he often feels lonely. So his guardians hire the services of a matchmaker to try and find the ideal bride for Tuan.

Despite the matchmaker's best efforts, no match can be found for Tuan and with a heavy hearted sigh he resigns himself to the fact that he may have to get used to dinner alone.

One night though, while resting in his garden, Tuan finds a gigantic snail. Rather than squishing it, Tuan looks after the snail and gives it a new home in a jar with some tasty cabbage leaves to munch on.

The next evening, Tuan returns home to find the most amazing dinner is laid out for him. His guardians deny all knowledge but Tuan devours the food hungrily, assuming that one of the neighbourhood girls has taken pity on him and cooked the meal for him.

The next evening, the feast is even larger and more luxurious! The most amazing chicken stewed with plums and amazing fresh crunchy vegetables and rice to eat. Tuan is stuffed but always makes sure his friend the snail is fed too!

Who could be the mysterious person who is providing such amazing meals? Tuan decides to hide one evening and find out...

...and that is where we'll leave the rest of the story for you to discover. This book feeds the mind and the senses as it is so atmospheric and the story really draws you in. Drawn in an amazing chinese watercolour style, the book also shows you some simple chinese symbols for some of the elements featured in the story so children can practice their chinese calligraphy skills.

It's a beautiful book indeed and such a satisfying story!

Charlotte's best bit: When Tuan discovers the identity of the mysterious 'cook' he can't believe his eyes!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A gloriously illustrated story that feels like a traditional folk tale, beautifully presented and a treat for the ears as well as the eyes as it's quite lilting to read aloud. Wonderful stuff from Flying Eye!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Flying Eye Books)