Book Review: Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu

July 18th, 2021 by

Take one part graphic novel, swirl in an immigrant family’s experience, mix in a cooking competition, and sprinkle in some friend drama. What do you have? The recipe for a sweet and satisfying treat — in this case, the book Measuring Up, written by Lily LaMotte and illustrated by Ann Xu!

The book begins in Taiwan, right before 12-year-old Cici and her parents immigrate to the United States. After the move, Cici makes new friends and starts getting used to her new life. But she desperately misses her grandmother (A-má) back in Taiwan. They used to visit the market together every week, and spend lots of time together cooking and chatting. But now all they have are video calls — which are obviously not the same! Fortunately, Cici soon cooks up a plan to bring A-má for a visit: she’ll enter a local kids cooking competition and use the cash prize to buy A-má a plane ticket! But will Cici have the culinary skills to take first place?

As a foodie, I loved the book’s focus on cooking. I especially enjoyed the close-up illustrations of all the mouth-watering dishes created by Cici and the other competitors. For example, check out these sample panels from the book, featuring cookies sprinkled with smoked sea salt:

Yum yum! Be right back, I gotta get a snack…

Okay, I’m back. Just eating a little cookie over here. Anyway…

Despite a feast of food scenes and images, Cici’s journey doesn’t just take place in the kitchen. She’s also dealing with her parents’ expectations, including her dad’s disappointment when her grades begin to slip after she spends so much time working on her recipes that she starts neglecting her schoolwork. Plus, Cici also faces racist remarks from some of her classmates and even the competition judges! Sometimes Cici wonders if her friends see her as too Taiwanese, too different from them.

Will Cici gain the confidence she needs to triumph in the competition and proudly be her full authentic self with her friends, family, and neighbors? I definitely suggest that you read Measuring Up and find out!

What is YOUR favorite food to cook/bake or eat? Leave a comment below!

— Karen

Karen doesn’t really enjoy cooking, but she loves to bake — especially brown sugar blondies. In fact, she has some sitting right here. Hmmm, is it time for another snack? Gotta go, byeeeeeee!

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