From Quesadillas to Bok Choi
Anyone who has kids, or was once one, knows that food is a big part of their lives. If left to free range, they might choose peanut butter and Jelly Bellys on toast for breakfast, but they'll eat that concoction with gusto.
My three twelve-year-old sleuths are no different in the gusto department, but their food choices are dictated by where they happen to be during the story. They travel from their small town to an early Gold Rush era mine on a hunt for treasure. And nothing makes a kid hungrier than a quest, so food is important.
At the beginning, they're home with family. Sam's eating Carmela's quesadillas, Roger's into fried chicken (a lot of fried chicken - when you meet Roger, you'll understand), and Joey's eating his mother's Cantonese cuisine.
But it's peanut butter cracker sandwiches that get them through an earthquake and the discovery of a crumbling skeleton with a mysterious note that promises treasure. It's this note that starts them on their Indiana Jones adventure into the northern hills of California.
There's some food deprivation along the way, but they fix that by finding a café well-stocked with fresh doughnuts and hot chocolate. That keeps them going until they're befriended by a descendant of early Chinese miners. They're lucky he's a good cook, but only Joey has experience using chopstix, so while there's a lot of rice and bits of ginger with bok choi, it takes Sam and Roger a long time to clean their bowls.
Food is not central to Sign of the Green Dragon, but it does trace the journey, and it reflects the different ethnicities in the story. Besides, growing kids must eat, even in fiction.
Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A dangerous quest. Sign of the Green Dragon gets high fives for fantasy, fun, and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible quests, you'll love this story. It has more twists than a dragon's tail. Ages 8-12.
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