A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.
Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?
About the Author
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She is the author, with Laura Shovan, of A Place at the Table, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Her book Meet Yasmin!, the first book in an early reader series about a Pakistani-American girl, received starred reviews, and she is also author of the adult fiction book Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. She lives with her husband and children in Houston, Texas, where she is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry, and prose.
Laura Shovan is the author, with Saadia Faruqi, of A Place at the Table, a Sydney Taylor Notable book. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, was a NCTE 2017 Notable Verse Novel, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the year, and won a Cybils Award for poetry, among other recognition. Her second children's novel, Takedown, published recently and her novels sit on over half a dozen state reading lists. She lives with her family in Maryland, where she is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council.
“This warm middle-grade novel explores the lives of first-generation immigrants and the definition of what it really means to be an American.”—Teen Vogue
“For or all the novel’s sober themes, there’s a lightness and brightness to the story borne out by the girls’ spunky quest to win the [cooking] contest."—The New York Times Book Review
"Writing in alternating voices, the authors elegantly interweave issues of racism, financial insecurity, and mental illness into a familiar middle school narrative of identity formation....This tale of a diverse friendship tackles hard topics."—Kirkus
"A solid story of unexpected friends coming together to break bread."—School Library Journal
"Told in alternating voices, Faruqi and Shovan’s nuanced tale about the thrill of budding friendship is relatable without sacrificing challenging topics." —Publishers Weekly
"Sara and Elizabeth's rocky relationship rings true to tween dynamics, and the writing maintains a hopeful tone as it confronts bigotry with modeled behavior....Short chapters, heavy dialogue and descriptive writing—particularly about food—should appeal to both younger and reluctant readers....This authentic cross-cultural novel offers tastes of identity, assimilation and allyship for fans of middle school friendship stories." —Shelf Awareness
“I would love to sit at a table with Sara and Elizabeth: two entirely believable characters and a lot of delicious food for thought.” —LINDA SUE PARK, Newbery Medalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, A Long Walk to Water
"A Place at the Table is a sensitive and honest book about friendship, family, cultural and racial identity, and one of the most important things that brings us together as people—good food. Faruqi and Shovan skillfully handle these complex topics with nuance, humor, and a joyful culinary appreciation that will leave any reader inspired and hungry!” —VEERA HIRANANDANI , author of The Night Diary, a Newbery Honor Book
“A feast of a novel, full of warmth and insight. Without minimizing the challenges faced by immigrants in our country, Faruqi and Shovan have written a charming, hopeful story about two girls from different cultures who find common ground in the kitchen. Readers will eagerly pull up a chair for this lovely tale of friendship, food, and family.” —BARBARA DEE, author of Maybe He Just Likes You