Vincent Chen’s debut picture book “Hot Pot Night!” invites children as young as three years old to a lively story about food, culture and community. The book begins in an apartment complex in which four neighbors ask the evening’s highly anticipated question: “What’s for dinner?” In bold text, an exuberant Tawainese child suggests, “Let’s have hot pot!” His excitement is soon matched by his family, friends and neighbors, prompting everyone of different ages and ethnic backgrounds to contribute to a delicious communal meal.
Tawainese American illustrator Vincent Chen creates his first children’s book by combining his Rhode Island School of Design-training with his love for hot pot. His use of warm tones, such as orange, gold and brown, creates a welcoming atmosphere without compromising the story’s vibrancy and playfulness. While Chen’s artistry emanates throughout the book, the focal point is his delightful interpretation of hot pot. From the vegetables to the broth, every detail is layered with texture and dimension, making it easy to identify each ingredient. While reading, young children will certainly build an appetite alongside their vocabulary.
Fortunately, Chen shares his mother’s recipe, encouraging children and guardians alike to enjoy a hot pot together. This way, young children can cultivate social and culinary skills by preparing a culturally significant food. As Chen explains, “Hot pot is a Chinese soup that literally brings people together and encourages them to share.” He adds, “There are many different styles of hot pot across Asia, and each family seems to have its own recipe.”
Pair this rhythmic, engaging, and interactive picture book with a hot pot of your own. While your children eat, they too can exclaim, “Hot pot, hot pot! Hits the right spot!”
Suggested age is readers 3-7 years old.