We are over the moon to share this month’s featured Filipino children’s book, Cora Cooks Pancit, written by Dorina Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valiant. It is a charming tale about a young Filipina American girl named Cora, who loves the smell of the Filipino dishes her Mama cooks and longs to cook in the kitchen, just like her older siblings. Instead, she is usually sitting on the sidelines, doing “kid jobs” like drawing in the flour or licking the spoon. She finally gets the chance to help her Mama and chooses to cook pancit, a Filipino noodle dish. Not only does she get to the opportunity to do the “grown-up” cooking tasks, but she learns about her Filipino heritage through her Mama’s storytelling in the process as well.
Why We Love the Book
My children and I love Cora’s determination to cook with her Mama. We appreciate the representation of a Filipino family in the story. Being able to see a family that looks similar to ours is very special and close to home. I also personally adore the bonding between Cora and Mama in the kitchen. Food is iconic for bringing Filipinos together. We admire the author’s introduction to the Filipino culture through Lolo’s story and how Mama passed on stories of the family heritage to Cora. My children thought it was also charming to see the dog in each picture bringing toys to Cora, wanting to play with her. It brought a realistic family element seeing each member of the book interact with one another.
Interview with the author
We had the chance to interview the talented author of Cora Cooks Pancit, Dorina Gilmore. Learn more about this amazing woman below and be sure to look out for a special treat for you in this post.
Q:What led you to write Cora Cooks Pancit?
A: As a child, I was a voracious reader. I was also looking for books about kids like me. I saw very little if any representation of kids from Filipino or mixed-race backgrounds. As a writer, I longed to fill this void. I also grew up in the kitchen with my mama, my grandmas, and aunties. My grandma Cora was an amazing cook and I wanted to preserve this recipe and the memory of cooking together.
Q:Tell us a little bit about your cultural background.
I’m from a mixed-race family. My mother’s side is mostly Italian with some Jewish and Armenian. My father’s parents immigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii. They were Filipino, Chinese, and Polynesian. My parents were very intentional to share these cultures and celebrate them with our family.
Q: What do you want others to know about the Fil-Am/Filipino culture?
A: Filipino American culture is a rich blend of Asian and Latin roots with an island flare. Food is central to our cultural identity. Despite economic hardships in the home country, Filipinos pride themselves on generous hospitality and inviting others to the table. I grew up experiencing the food, music, dance, and art of the Philippines and learning about others.
Q:What and/or who is your inspiration behind what you do?
A: My children inspire me to keep writing. I have three daughters ages 7, 10 and 13. I want them to have books that express the cultures and experiences that are familiar to them and that teach them about others. I believe books help us navigate life and trials. They give us examples and instill values in us.
Q: Where can people find you and learn about your work?
Sign up for the newsletter www.dorinakidsbooks.com where Dorina shares her publishing news, children’s book reviews and a FREE Christmas advent book list with you.
Q: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share with our audience?
A: I want readers to know that their purchases have power. The more they share books with others and request them at the library and bookstores, the more you will see a demand for books about Filipino Americans and others in publishing. We need you!
A Special Treat for you from Dorina
Dorina would love to send any of our readers a signed, personalized copy of Cora Cooks Pancit for $10 plus shipping. (Here is a link to her Contact Page where you will see a contact form and her e-mail address. You can let her know you are a part of the Fil-Am Learners community).
Where to find out more about the Illustrator, Kristi Valiant