Bilal Cooks Daal
Bilal Cooks Daal

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Annotation: A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019 An Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book 2019 Six-year-old B... more
Catalog Number: #209825
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-534-41810-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7585-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-534-41810-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7585-4
Dewey: E
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
When Abu calls his son in to cook dinner, Bilal's friends are curious about why dinner needs to be prepared so early. Daal takes a long time to cook, so Bilal invites his friends to help him choose lentils and spices from the pantry and mix them together in a large pot. Afterward, Bilal catches whispers that the daal "smells funny" and worries that his friends won't like it. There's no knowing until evening. When the daal finally finishes simmering, the kids gather around the table, where sounds of slurp! and mmm! allay Bilal's concerns. This story is refreshingly innovative in numerous ways. First, with a father and son in charge of cooking and no mother in sight, gender roles are shifted. Second, it tackles the matter of "different" food with joy rather than angst. And third, Urdu words are seamlessly integrated without cushioning for the linguistic outsider. Cheerful illustrations capture the children's reactions and depict a happily multicultural cast. An author's note and chana daal recipe conclude this lovely picture-book debut.
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist Saeed makes her picture-book debut with this delicious tale about a boy and his beloved daal.When Bilal's father begins to make the South Asian legume stew, Bilal and his friends Morgan and Elias are eager to help, but Abu tells them, "This dish takes patience.…This dish takes time." The children choose to make chana daal (with split chickpeas) and line up the spices: turmeric, chili, cumin. But when Morgan and Elias wonder aloud why the daal "looks" and "smells" funny, Bilal becomes concerned that his friends won't like his favorite food at all. The daal simmers all day—as Bilal, Morgan, and Elias play hopscotch, swim, and hike and other friends join them—and once the sun begins to set, Bilal's father calls them all home. They break naan around the table and share the steamy, soupy, garlicky, salty, sweet, creamy daal. "Bilal, you were right—daal tastes great!" they say. The tale centers on a situation familiar to many children of immigrants—the othering of the foods of their homes—and validates young readers' cultural experiences. Saeed's inclusion of a South Asian father engaged in domestic work is radical and welcome, and Syed's inviting, bold, cartoonlike illustrations depict brown-skinned Bilal surrounded by children of a variety of skin tones (Morgan presents white and Elias presents black). A quietly radical, eminently delightful book. (author's note, recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)
Publishers Weekly
Saeed, a founder of We Need Diverse Books, offers a relatable story about trying new foods and introducing friends to family traditions. Bilal loves daal and couldn-t be happier to share it with his two friends, Elias and Morgan. The kids-who, in Syed-s friendly digital art, show just what they are feeling in their facial expressions-help out with the spices: -Bilal breathes in the scent of turmeric, chili, cumin. Morgan sprinkles salt.- But when Morgan and Elias express uncertainty (---It smells funny,- whispers Elias-), Bilal worries, thinking that maybe -his friends won-t like daal at all.- After an afternoon of fun, and with more friends in tow, it-s time to eat. Readers worried about how their family meals will be received can take heart: Bilal-s friends eagerly try and enjoy the meal. Ages 4-8. (June)

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Bilal is excited to introduce his favorite food, daal (South Asian lentils), to his friends. As the story unfolds, it maintains a flow of events that keeps readers in step with the time it takes to cook the dish. The anticipation builds throughout the story and keeps the interest focused on the result. The aim being the finished product and how it will taste to someone who has never tasted this dish before. Each child's reaction is unique and each child has a reaction to contribute. The author uses food as a way to create common ground and bridge cultures. The illustrations are charming and the facial expressions of the children are endearing. The recipe itself, diversity of the characters, and the father taking on the role as a cook and enlisting his son to help prepare dinner are interwoven themes that make this book perfect for reading discussions among preschoolers. The book also shows that the deepest flavors come with ingredients that simmer gently. This teaches patience to youngsters. The story can prompt discussions about patience, friendship, expanding your palate, measurements, and spices. A fun introduction to cross cultural sharing but any South Asian cook will testify that it takes no more than two hours to produce the perfect daal, not four to five hours as stated.-Noureen Qadir-Jafar, Syosset Library, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Novelist Saeed makes her picture-book debut with this delicious tale about a boy and his beloved daal.When Bilal's father begins to make the South Asian legume stew, Bilal and his friends Morgan and Elias are eager to help, but Abu tells them, "This dish takes patience.…This dish takes time." The children choose to make chana daal (with split chickpeas) and line up the spices: turmeric, chili, cumin. But when Morgan and Elias wonder aloud why the daal "looks" and "smells" funny, Bilal becomes concerned that his friends won't like his favorite food at all. The daal simmers all day—as Bilal, Morgan, and Elias play hopscotch, swim, and hike and other friends join them—and once the sun begins to set, Bilal's father calls them all home. They break naan around the table and share the steamy, soupy, garlicky, salty, sweet, creamy daal. "Bilal, you were right—daal tastes great!" they say. The tale centers on a situation familiar to many children of immigrants—the othering of the foods of their homes—and validates young readers' cultural experiences. Saeed's inclusion of a South Asian father engaged in domestic work is radical and welcome, and Syed's inviting, bold, cartoonlike illustrations depict brown-skinned Bilal surrounded by children of a variety of skin tones (Morgan presents white and Elias presents black). A quietly radical, eminently delightful book. (author's note, recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
ALA Booklist (3/1/19)
Horn Book
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (8/1/19)
Word Count: 647
Reading Level: 2.4
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 2.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 506820 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: AD520L

A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019
An Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book 2019

Six-year-old Bilal introduces his friends to his favorite dish—daal!—in this charming picture book that showcases the value of patience, teamwork, community, and sharing.

Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?

This debut picture book by Aisha Saeed, with charming illustrations by Anoosha Syed, uses food as a means of bringing a community together to share in each other’s family traditions.


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