Multilingual adventures exploring Singapore’s multicultural cuisine.
If she actually had opposable thumbs, Little Mynah could well be a food blogger, with her comprehensive knowledge of Singaporean culture and cuisine. Our fine-feathered friend returns for a second outing following her debut, this time introducing two of her human friends, Jay and Jen, to the seemingly endless varieties of food available at a hawker centre, when they get tired of their usual fishball noodles.
Much like the first book, Makan Mischief continues to educate readers about our four main languages of communication – English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, through juxtaposing both the second language and English, as spoken by the various hawkers as they fulfil Little Mynah’s requests. From Hokkien Mee to Nasi Lemak to Prata of all varieties, definitely don’t read this book on an empty stomach.
Each scene feels gorgeously handcrafted, with Dhanendra Poedjono’s paper-cut style illustrations adding a 3D illusion to the book, almost as if the plates of food are coming right off the page. Dhanendra has done an especially good job of capturing the human characters’ expressions, with Jay’s look of surprise and exclaiming ‘I’d like to try everything’ an endearing and relatable moment for readers who ever felt spoilt for choice at breakfast. Her choice of pattern on each piece of ‘paper’ further adds depth and variety to the portrayal of characters, right down to the way skin tones vary between one’s palm and one’s forearm.
Naturally, wiih just two people, Jay and Jen can’t possibly finish all the food they’ve ordered up. But luckily, they decide to share the food with anyone who wants to join in, giving us a happy ending with this picture perfect start to the morning. As for Little Mynah? She may know her food and languages, but she’d much rather have her bugs and berries, last seen in a colourful landscape eating her own breakfast with her other bird friends.
As always, the book ends off with a checklist of simple greetings and words spoken during the adventure for readers to go over again. It’s a simple but effective tool you might flip open again from time to time, just to see the beautiful illustrations, and one wonders how author Evelyn Sue Wong and illustrator Dhanendra will continue to develop Little Mynah’s adventures in future instalments, and perhaps even consider books for higher level readers to learn even more vocabulary.
Recommended for: First readers who want to know about some common cuisine – bring this book to your local hawker centre and try some of the food listed!
Just A Little Mynah: Makan Mischief is published by Epigram and available here