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Shanté Keys and the New Year's peas
2007
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Shantâe Keys (Girl), African American, Goes in search of some black-eyed peas for the New Year's day dinner
Genre
Fiction
Juvenile
Multiculturalism
Didactic
Topics
New Year's Day
Holidays
African American
Food
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-It's New Year's Day, and Shanti's Grandma is "weak in the knees" from cooking "chitlins, baked ham,/macaroni and cheese,/Greens and hot corn bread,/but no black-eyed peas!" If the family doesn't eat "cowpeas," it means a year of bad luck, so Shanti goes out into the neighborhood in search of "blackeyes." She visits a Chinese woman, a Scottish grocer, a Mexican restaurant owner, and a Hindu family. In turn, each neighbor explains his or her culture's differing New Year's practices with an oversimplification that leans toward ethnic stereotypes. The book tries to do too much, taking the focus off Shanti and her family. The illustrations, done in candylike colors, are unappealing. On the plus side, the lighthearted rhyme presents various cultural food customs associated with the holiday. A look at New Year's traditions around the world and a recipe for Hoppin' John are appended.-Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

In rhyming text and vibrant illustrations, this upbeat story celebrates family, community, and multiculturalism, highlighting an African American family's New Year's food traditions, including lucky black-eyed peas. Grandma has prepared a delicious meal, but something is missing: Mercy!' cries Grandma. I'm weak in the knees. I cooked lots of food, but forgot black-eyed peas!' Young Shante is sent to check with the neighbors: Miss Lee, who is Chinese; grocer MacGhee, from Scotland; Shante's friend Hari, who is Hindu. None of them have peas, but on her visits, Shante learns about their celebratory food traditions from dumplings to haggis and cheese. Finally, she finds peas, which Grandma prepares, and the neighbors happily share at the festive dinner. The story, with abundant dialogue, is written in couplets, with all lines ending in a long e sound, and the expressive art warmly portrays characters' interactions in bright, rich hues and lively detail. Notes on a few other culture's special New Year foods and a recipe for Grandma's hoppin' John are appended.--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2007 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Shant's family has a New Year's tradition. The family has a feast that includes one special item: black-eyed peas. They believe eating the peas will bring them luck throughout the new year. Grandma discovers she has forgotten this crucial dish and sends Shant out to find some. As Shant travels from neighbor to neighbor, she learns the New Year's food traditions of those families, and even though they don't have the peas she needs, she invites them to dinner to try the ones she's sure she'll find. Written in rhyming couplets, the verse often falters annoyingly, making it difficult to read aloud without practice, but readers will find any number of new rhymes for the word "peas." (Chef Ortiz is from Belize, for instance.) Bright, colorful illustrations portray Shant's energy and determination to save her family tradition, but, of course, these seem to be miracle peas that don't need soaking overnight. Like Norah Dooley's Everybody Cooks Rice (1991), this is a simple way to introduce young children to other cultures and traditions. The recipe for Grandma Louise's Hoppin' John provides a fun activity for families. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Shanté Keys loves New Year's Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no--it'll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors.
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