The Perfect Present / Tofu Takes Time

The Perfect Present
Petr Horáček
Otter-Barry Books

Mot and Tom are the best of friends; they also share a birthday on which they exchange gifts. Tom gives Mot a multi-coloured feather which his friend imagines might be from the world’s most spectacular bird. Mot gives Tom a marble, also multi-coloured; could that perhaps be the universe’s smallest planet. Tom would love to give his friend an entire ocean alive with creatures large and small, perhaps even a monster

and a host of wild animals like lions, monkeys and an elephant. Mot’s choices to give Tom are hills, rivers, forests and mountains, the sun too.

Having spent a long time in all these imaginings the two friends go outdoors to play in the rain

and then back indoors after a bath together they share a scrumptious birthday tea. I wonder what Tom and Mot decided was the best present of all as they snuggled down ready for sleep.

Petr Horáček’s vibrant mixed media illustrations radiate the warmth these two moggy pals share in this gorgeous celebration of friendship and the power of the imagination that’s perfect for giving and sharing with young humans on any day but perhaps birthdays especially.

Also showing the importance of spending time together is

Tofu Takes Time
Helen H. Wu and Julia Jarema
Beaming Books

Instead of popping to the supermarket to buy readymade tofu, it’s a case of PLINK PLANK PLUNK followed by CLICK CLACK WHIRRRR as Lin’s grandmother, NaiNai begins making tofu from scratch, watched by the little girl who is impatient to see the finished product. But all good things take time and patience, and that is what NaiNai tells Lin from the outset as she gradually involves her in some of the tofu-making tasks including straining the soy milk, lemon squeezing

and squishing and moulding the curds into shape.

However, as Lin gradually learns, the tofu making process not only takes time, it takes the whole universe too. It takes the seed from soil and sunshine, the cloth from thread and fibre,

weight and space, stories and pictures from books: and most of all, it takes spending precious time with her much-loved grandmother.

Julia Jarema’s illustrations have a feeling of gentleness, as they alternate between details of the tofu-making and Lin’s imaginings in Helen Wu’s tasty tale of patience and delayed gratification. Her inclusion of playful, onomatopoeic language and NaiNai’s repeat phrase add to the fun for young listeners; and her ‘more about tofu’ and author’s note will interest both adults and youngsters with an interest in cooking.

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