Summary: Measuring Up
The graphic novel Measuring Up follows 12-year-old Cici who moves from Taiwan to the US with her parents, leaving behind her beloved A-ma (her grandmother). Thankfully, the adjustment period isn’t too hard on her. She makes friends quickly and her English is already pretty good. However, she and her parents struggle with American culture, like sleepovers, fireplaces, and she quickly stops bring Taiwanese food to lunch, preferring instead to learn to make American food, so she can blend in.
Although Cici and her parents want to bring her grandmother over for a visit at least, they can’t afford to yet. Cici misses her A-ma with whom she used to go to the market and cook. So when she stumbles upon a kid cooking contest, it feels like the perfect opportunity to earn $1000. The only problem is that Cici can only cook Taiwanese dishes. Fortunately, she’s paired up with an Italian-American girl, Miranda, whose father runs a restaurant (and who practically grew up working in a restaurant). Halfway through the contest though, each contestant has to compete alone.
I adored this graphic novel. Cici is so earnest and is a “supertaster” with a keen taste for flavors. I just loved the entire cooking contest, and seeing her work hard to learn to prepare dishes. Something else I enjoyed about this book is that it focuses on a few crucial themes, even though there are so many places the author could have gone with Cici’s story. The focus is on food, family, culture, and friendships.
Of course, Cici’s relationship with her grandmother is also at the forefront of this story. It’s obvious how much they both care for each other, and I love these grandparent stories. Cici’s friends are also pretty solid and supportive — even Miranda isn’t mean despite both girls competing. It’s always refreshing to read stories without bullying.
Another major theme is the discord between parents’ dreams and those of their kids. Cici’s dad wants her to focus on school and making a better life, whereas cooking seems to her passion — and she’s good at it too! Miranda’s dad is pushy about her taking over the restaurant, but she too wants something different. Finally, I liked the illustration style (which is important for me). It also reads beautifully on Kindle/iPad.
Overall: Measuring Up
Measuring Up is an excellent feel-good, coming-of-age story which pays homage to the love between a granddaughter and her grandmother. This book also tackles themes like Asian culture, immigration, healthy female friendships, and of course, food. It will certainly appeal to Julia Child fans who enjoy middle-grade books about food or those who enjoy watching cooking contests. I loved this heartwarming debut, and would highly recommend.
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Have you read this book or any other graphic novels about food? I’d love to hear your recommendations!