New Children’s Book Highlights Multicultural Food Choices Among Families
Shannon Gibney wants to allow readers–and her own son–to know that many families, particularly in northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities–face food fights of a multicultural nature almost nightly at the dinner table.
Her latest book is titled “Sam and the Incredible African and American Food Fight.” It’s about a young man who’s the son of African-American and Liberian parents.
“They also live with their auntie, who’s Liberian, and there’s the little sister, Kona. So every night, there’s this tension in the house: what kind of food are they going to have for dinner? American food or Liberian food?” said Gibney at a book launch event on Tuesday afternoon at North Hennepin Community College. “(It’s) totally stressing Sam out and his stomach starts talking to him like this, until they come up with a solution.”
Gibney feels like the story is about more than what’s for dinner.
“We can figure things out in our families together. It’s not going to be tiptoeing through the tulips all the time and singing ‘Koombayah’ and everybody’s happy all the time,” said Gibney. “We know that families aren’t like that.”
At the launch event, Gibney signed books for and spoke to a crowd of dozens of readers about Sam’s story.
“Shannon reached out to us because we have a really thriving Liberian community here in Brooklyn Park but here on campus,” said North Hennepin Community College Director of Creative Writing Kelly Lundquist. She said the story really hits a central narrative for so many families: “Kids having to navigate their parents’ backgrounds, and parents kind of having to make some compromises and sort of find new ways to combine their cultures.”
The book also features recipes printed in the back for many of the dishes discussed in the story.
“Hopefully people can explore to their comfort level or even their uncomfortable level,” said Gibney. “Sometimes with food we do have to step outside our comfort level.”
The book will be on sale starting April 26.