Recipe for Adventure: Hong Kong!

Recipe for Adventure:  Hong Kong! by Giada De Laurentiis
Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

This book is the third in Food Network chef Giada De Laurentis’s Recipe for Adventure series.  While most children’s chapter book series don’t have to be read in order, this is a series where I do recommend starting with the first book Naples! This way, readers will get a little background into Zia (Aunt) Donatella and how siblings Alfie and Emilia travel to different countries.  In this book, the brother and sister are transported to Hong Kong and are mistaken for foreign exchange students who are supposed to be visiting Ying and her family.  The two end up helping Ying’s family as they get ready to open a restaurant, The Golden Lion.  The book takes place at the start of the Chinese New Year.  The reader gets an in-depth look into the food, traditions and symbolism of the holiday.  Alfie and Emilia receive new clothes, which is a custom of the New Year (and helps since they never arrive in the selected country with luggage!) and watch parades and fireworks.  As with the other books in this series, De Laurentis really gives a detailed description of the food in Hong Kong.  Red melon seeds, kumquats,  chicken feet and pan-fried oyster cakes are only a few of the foods mentioned.  Alfie struggles with learning how to properly use chop sticks and discovers stabbing the food with the chopstick is considered bad luck.  Other superstitions, like not cutting or breaking long noodles, which represent prosperity are also mentioned.  There’s also a side story that takes place in which Ying disobeys her parents and sneaks around to practice gymnastics, which she’s really passionate about and very good at it.  Alfie and Emilia help Ying show her parents how skilled she is.

There aren’t many food-related, travel fiction books for children.  This is a fun series, geared toward older elementary-aged students (grades 3 through 5) that gives them an in-depth look at the food and customs of different countries around the world.  Alfie and Emilia are characters that children can relate to and the stories are engaging and adventurous. Each book also comes with two recipe cards, which for this book included “Zia’s Scallion Pancakes” and “Zia’s Shrimp Dumplings.”  There are currently five books in this series.  We highly recommend this book, as well as the first two and we will continue to read the rest of the series.