"A whimsical story about being different, and the power of love."—Wendy Orr, author of Nim's Island and The Princess and Her Panther
It’s not easy being the ugliest dumpling in a dim sum restaurant. Uneaten and ignored, the ugly dumpling is down in the dumps. But when an encouraging cockroach sees the dumpling’s inner beauty, this unlikely duo embarks on an eye-opening adventure, leading the ugly dumpling to discover its true identity and realize that being different is beautiful after all.
A modern fairytale retelling with a timeless moral: There’s a little ugly dumpling in all of us.
Everyone loves the dumplings at the Golden Swan Chinese Restaurant, but no one wants the ugly dumpling of the title: it doesn't look like anything like the other pot stickers in the bamboo steamer, not even when it tries to wrinkle its brow or wear pleated pants (one of several excellent foodie jokes from debut author Campisi). "Uneaten and ignored," it's befriended by a cockroach, who promises, "I will show you the beauty of the world." Together they traverse mountains of flour and gaze at fortune cookie pyramids, and the ugly dumpling discovers a new gastronomic identity as a steamed bun ("It puffed with importance and yeast"). However, another dilemma arises: cockroaches are anathema to restaurants. From the wordplay of the premise to Kober's (The Flying Hand of Marco B.) crisp pictures and Campisi's easygoing sense of humor, it's a story with plenty of promise. But the global tour has little bearing on the dumpling's epiphany, and the ending, which finds the friends leaving the restaurant to live in a Dumpster, is something of a letdown. Ages 2 8. Author's agent: Stacey Glick, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Illustrator's agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates.