I’ve been on the storytime circuit this last month as I have a new picture book of my very own. Readers of this column know how much I adore storytime, so wherever I’ve gone to read my book, I’ve asked if I can do a whole storytime, the better to read other picture books, as well. Usually the regular beleaguered storytime readers are happy to have this happen.
So I’ve set up a little storytime that centers loosely around the themes of food, family, food, community, food, fun, food…. What can I say? I love reading and writing about food, so this is an easy storytime for me to put together!
I’ve had great fun, in particular, reading Linda Sue Park’s Bee-bim Bop! It’s a made-for-storytime-read because it has that magical refrain “Bee-bim Bop” on nearly every page. So fun to say! Even the youngest among us can join in for Bee-bim Bop! I hardly have to cue them….
Almost time for supper
Rushing to the store
Mama buys the groceries—
More, Mama, more!
Hurry, Mama, hurry
Gotta shop shop shop!
Hungry hungry hungry
For some BEE-BIM BOP!
The plot is simple: a little girl and her Mama are making dinner. They’re making the traditional Korean dish bibimbap (variously English-ised as bee-bim-bap, bi-bim-bop, etc.) There are eggs to stir fry and flip high…rice to boil…garlic and green onion and skinny meat strips to chop…spinach, sprouts and carrots to slice. There’s a detailed recipe in the back of the book — all simple steps, many quite kid-friendly.
Bowls go on the table
Big ones striped in blue
I help set the glasses out
Spoons and chopsticks too.
The illustrations by Ho Baek Lee match the energetic rhythm of getting supper on the table — three generations and a dog dance around each other getting everything together. Then they gather around the table, pausing for a quiet moment of thanks. And then they make the bee-bim bop!
Bee-bim means “mixed up” and bop is the Korean word for rice. Each one makes their own bowl with rice in the middle, and all the toppings that have been prepared — a little meat, lots of veggies, an egg, and spicy kimchi, too — on top. Everything is stirred together and a delicious colorful meal results.
When I read this book I always ask, “Who here has eaten bee-bim bop?” If it’s a younger group (under three) they all eagerly raise their hands. Such wonderfully open palettes — especially since many of their parents haven’t tried it! Toddlers seeking out new foods and flavors! Terrific! This is what happens when you take your kids to storytime, my friends!
At the last storytime I did, a little boy turned the question on me: “Do you like bee-bim bop?” he asked, giving the bop extra emphasis, and bopping my knee as he said it. I had to admit I’d not tried it, though I was sure I’d like it because I like all the things in it…. He all but rolled his eyes. It was obvious I lost a little credibility with him.
I thought about making it from the recipe in the book, but my husband and I decided we would go to a good Korean place known for its authenticity for our first go around. It was delicious, just as I knew it would be. I hope to recreate it in my own kitchen this week.
Hurry, family, hurry
Gotta hop hop hop
Dinner’s on the table
And it’s BEE-BIM BOP!