Welcome to the first installment in our Asian Culture and KidLit series! Andrea Wang is so excited to reveal the cover for her second picture book, Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando, illustrated by Japanese artist Kana Urbanowicz and published by little bee books (March 2019).
Asian Culture and KidLit series with Andrea Wang
September 2018: Cover Reveal! Andrea’s MAGIC RAMEN: The Story of Momofuku Ando
February 2019: Cover Reveal! Mia’s Sumo Joe
April 2019: Sumo, Ramen Noodles & Chinese Connection
June 2019: Tempura and Chankonabe (and how it’s related to our books!)
August 2019: Our Connection to Tokyo 2020 Olympics (Nissin Sports Advancement Foundation, Sumo for Girls)
October 2019: It’s a Small World: Nissin Connection
For today’s September installment of Asian Culture and KidLit series with Andrea Wang, we have:
- Cover reveal: Andrea will also interview her illustrator and ask them about their relationship to food and drawing food.
- Recipe: we ask our illustrators for their favorite food recipes — adapt to kids as necessary
- Giveaway: Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando (when it is released)
Magic Ramen Cover Reveal!
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz
Magic Ramen is a nonfiction picture book biography of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen.
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 WWII. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed. Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting. With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods.
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando is available for pre-order on Amazon now! (The cover on Amazon is a temporary one – the one we’re revealing today is the real deal!)
ta da ….
Here it is!
Andrea Interviews her Illustrator, Kana Urbanowicz
I was able to interview Kana Urbanowicz, my amazing illustrator. Kana is a freelance illustrator and manga artist who lives in Tokyo with her husband Matt, also an artist. Since Kana doesn’t speak English, Matt was kind enough to translate for us. Thank you, Matt!
I love the cover for MAGIC RAMEN and how Ando is presenting his invention to the reader! How did you come up with the design? Were there other cover designs that you can show us that didn’t get selected?
First, I made 4 different rough sketches of different cover ideas. While making these I was trying to put the focus on Ando’s face, the ramen or the title, each in turn. But the designers decided that we can put all of them in focus at once! So, in the end, the design not only shows all the three main elements but also adds a little bit of magic to the theme. I like how it turned out a lot! Here are the initial sketches:
You are also a talented animator. I saw that you have a great video of a student eating ramen on your website (http://www.kanaurbanowicz.com/ramen-boy). Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship to ramen (traditional or instant style) and what you think about drawing food?
I of course like ramen because it’s easy to make and you can eat it whenever you want, but also because most people in Japan have their favorite ramen ranking! There are a lot of variations so even choosing only the base can be a bit difficult at times (soy sauce, miso, salt, fish broth, pork broth and many more!). I think it’s rare for one dish to have such a broad range of possible variations. It’s like a small culinary world in itself.
More than drawing food itself I think that the act of eating is an interesting, very human-like moment to depict. It’s very hard to do but when done well (with a lot of underlying observation and understanding) can lead to very humanistic work (animation, illustration or comics alike).
The flip side of eating – feeding people – really interested Ando. He tried adding a lot of different ingredients to his instant ramen to make it more nutritious. The Japanese version also has a dent on the top of the block of noodles so people can crack an egg into it and poach it in the hot soup. If you were making instant ramen for yourself to eat, what flavor would you choose and what would you add to it?
I think I would choose a salt based ramen with various vegetables that I just happen to have in my fridge. I would also put a raw egg on the bottom of the bowl (below the noodles) so when I get bored with the taste I can mix what’s left with the egg to change the taste halfway through. I learned the vegetables bit from my mother and the egg trick from my father – so you can say it’s a family recipe.
Speaking of recipes, do you have a recipe for a favorite Japanese dish that you could share with us?
I really like the Oyako Don which is a rice bowl topped with eggs, chicken meat (breast or thigh), onion and nori (seaweed). It’s really simple, tasty and can be done in just 30 minutes. There are a lot of good recipes floating around so just search! Here is one: https://www.justonecookbook.com/oyakodon/
My cooking advice is to put the raw cut meat into the sauce for 10 minutes before adding to the frying pan. It makes the meat taste so much better!
I also like the name of the dish: “Oyako” which means “parent and child” in this case the chicken and egg!
Mmm! That looks so tasty! Kids, be sure to supervise the adult who is cutting the meat for you! 😉
Finally, is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or the book?
When I was drawing the pictures for this book I was thinking not only about Ando Momofuku but more broadly about the process of trying something new, failing, trying again and again, taking risks and finally (hopefully) succeeding. The joy of taking up such a challenge and the need for innovation and creative thinking were some things I wanted to put in the book and would be happy if it got through to readers.
I’m really happy that I could participate in the book and would like to thank Andrea Wang for such a great, inspiring story to illustrate! I hope you will like the book and that it makes you want to try new things (and new ramen).
Thank you so much, Kana, for bringing Ando’s story to life with your beautiful art! I haven’t seen a picture book before with manga-style illustrations and I can’t wait for everyone to see it! For more of Kana’s work, including some adorable animal figurines, check out her website at kanaurbanowicz.com. She’s also on Twitter (@kanapeco), Instagram (@kana_urbanowicz) and Tumbler (tekumushi).
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away a copy of Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando when it comes out. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.
Andrea Wang grew up making dumplings and taking baths with orange peels to prepare for Chinese New Year. She loves to travel and try new foods and has tasted camel in Beijing, mantis shrimp in Hanoi, and emu in Perth. Andrea lives in the Denver, Colorado area with her family and their dog, Mochi, named for the sticky rice dessert. Her first book is The Nian Monster, illustrated by Alina Chau.