Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Celebration of Culinary Diversity

Multicultural Children's Book Day is just a week away and I'm ready with my first book review for the big event. If you have ever felt like the odd one out, living in a foreign place, this is a book you would wish you had read as a child.

Author: Sandra L. Richards
Illustrator: Megan Kayleigh Sullivan
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Tradition takes flight in Rice & Rocks, a picture book celebrating culture and diversity.
Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed—he does not like “rice and rocks” and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together. 


Rice & Rocks is a book about appreciating the diversity in our cultures and embracing one's culture without being embarrassed about it. Giovanni's friends are coming over for lunch and he's angry that his aunt is going to make their traditional rice and red beans dish which he thinks his friends wouldn't like. He calls it "rice and rocks" and that where the book's title comes from.

Giovanni's pet parrot, Jasper takes him on a magical journey that makes him realise how rice is a favourite in different parts of the world and that his traditional Jamaican dish is as good as any other dish. When his friends finally come over for the Sunday lunch, Auntie makes rice and beans which the children enjoy as much as Giovanni himself and one of them from Puerto Rico says that the dish tastes like 'Arroz con Grandules' which her abuela makes. Rice and beans are a staple dish across my country and also one of my favourites, which is probably why I personally quite enjoyed this book.

Living in the multicultural country that India is, I often experience indifference towards my traditional cuisine, the Kerala cuisine, from some people from other parts of the country, especially for the generous use of Coconut; and I was surprised to discover through conversations with my friend and writer Deborah Wong, its many similarities with the Malaysian cuisine.

I loved this book for the precious lesson in it that we may be different yet similar and special in many ways. The language is simple and so are the illustrations. I would definitely recommend this book to all parents, teachers and librarians.

About the Author

Sandra L. Richards is the debut picture book author of Rice & Rocks. With Rice & Rocks, Sandra brings a unique contribution to the world of children’s books. An American-born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, she hopes the book will serve as an educational resource for families seeking to teach their children the value of their heritage and the importance of cultural diversity. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

About the Illustrator

Megan Kayleigh Sullivan graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2012 with a degree in Illustration. She is currently working as a freelance illustrator and storyboard artist. She enjoys traveling, writing, telling stories, and hula-hooping. Learn more about her work from her website and follow her on Instagram.
This post is part of the Multicultural Children's Book Day 2017 and the review copy was received through the MCBD Reviewer Program. 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Thanks to Sandra Richards for the lovely book, Kate Tilton and Becky Flansburg for all their hard work and to all the MCBD sponsors and organisers for this wonderful opportunity.