When we started investigating a Korean-themed book to cover in May, the suggestion that came up over and over from many Korean-Americans and others was Bee-Bim Bop, by author Linda Sue Park and illustrator Ho Baek Lee, so we took heed. Bee-Bim Bop is an adorable, sing-songy book about cooking this favorite (at least one of my favorite) Korean dishes, bee-bim bop, which means mixed-up rice in Korean. The book was also chosen in 2009 by the public libraries of New York as one of the top 20 favorite stories to read aloud and I can see why.
The book begins with a trip to the grocery store, after which mother and daughter return home to cook. The book introduces us, through rhyme, to the ingredients that go into making bee-bim bop and shows a little girl helping her mom in the kitchen including cleaning up her spilled water and setting the table; books that demonstrate helping and working together are always a plus in my mind.
The main verse woven throughout (with a few variations):
“Hungry hungry hungry
for some bee-bim bop”
is guaranteed to have your kids repeating it! But unlike other stories with a potentially annoying refrain, it was pretty cute to hear my non-Korean-speaking kids going around chanting “bee-bim bop.” The book ends with the parents, their two kids and a grandmother mixing up their bee-bim bop around the dinner table.
An added bonus is a recipe for bee-bim bop at the end of the book, crafted in a way for you to make it with your kids; it’s directed to “you” and includes cooking instructions for a “grown-up.” I can’t wait to see if this book will have an influence on my kids eating bee-bim bop next time we eat Korean food.