Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.
Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach,he believed.
Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.
I received a copy of this book from the author. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
When I discovered this book whilst looking for books to read for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, I was absolutely delighted to discover Magic Ramen, a picture book about the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando. To be honest, before discovering this gorgeous picture book, I was completely ignorant of the history, and so reading this autobiographical picture book and learning about the history of instant ramen was such a delightful experience.
One of the biggest joys of this picture book is that it is told from a historical context, specifically after the second World War. The story talks about why Ando decided to make instant ramen, particularly in a time when people were devastated from the effects of the war and had to wait for hours just to have one bowl of ramen to eat. Therefore, not only is this story about how and why instant ramen was created, the story also highlights the importance of being creative, problem solving, and finding solutions to help others in tough times.
I also really loved how this story is about the value of perseverance, even if trying over and over again is met with failure. Guided by his belief that ‘peace follows from a full stomach’, Magic Ramen follows Ando’s many attempts to perfect his instant ramen creation – for it to be delicious, easy to cook, and accessible to everyone. I thought this was such a lovely message for kids – and readers of all ages! – particularly because, without Ando’s perseverance and hard work, we may not have the incredible invention that is instant ramen today. It was neat seeing the history of something that we take for granted, and how it was packaged well with a heartwarming and inspiring message.
The illustrations, drawn by Japanese author Kana Urbanowicz, were gorgeous and perfectly complemented the Wang’s storytelling. Each page was a delight to look at, with most pages fully illustrated and in full colour, and Kana’s style fit perfectly with the tone of the story. Sometimes when I need inspiration, I flip through Magic Ramen, read Wang’s words and Kana’s illustrations and feel inspired.
MY CONCLUSION: RECOMMENDED
Magic Ramen is perfect for children and readers who love ramen and love simple stories about the history of a food beloved by many around the world, especially in Japan. I certainly can’t wait to share this with the kids in my family one day; this book is a timeless treasure and delight.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: An autobiographical picture book about the invention of instant ramen.
Perfect for: Little kids who love colourful illustrations, children between the ages 4 – 8, people who love instant ramen.
Think twice if: You’re not a fan of picture books.
Genre: picture book, non-fiction, historical
Trigger/content warning: none.
Reading Magic Ramen rekindled my love for picture books! After reading Magic Ramen, I went on a hunt for more picture books, particularly written by and illustrated by authors of colour, and I’m hoping to put together a list of diverse picture books soon!
- Have you read Magic Ramen? What did you think?
- Do you love instant ramen? What’s your favourite brand and favourite flavour?
- Do you have any picture book recommendations?