Swipe to look inside
Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia

Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia

Illustrated by Dream Chen


Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia

About the Book

A heartwarming picture book about a Chinese-American girl who grows to appreciate the traditional dishes her parents prepare for her and finds a way to share her lunch with her classmates.

Everyone loves lunchtime. Everyone, that is, but Zia.

At school, the other kids are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and apples on the side. But Zia's always nervous about opening her lunchbox. Her dumpling and noodle dishes look different and smell different. She dreads lunchtime.

Then, during her birthday week, her parents pack her a different Cantonese dish each day and explain what the food represents: a roast pork bun to bring treasure, soy sauce chicken to bring success, and more. At first, Zia doesn’t want to eat her lunch, but once she starts, she just may realize her food could bring her good fortune after all!

Product Details

On sale: February 7, 2023
Age: 3-7 years
Grade: Preschool - 2
Page count: 40 Pages
ISBN: 9780593425428
Reading level: Lexile: AD600L | Fountas/Pinnell: O

Author Bio

Jenny Liao is a Chinese American author of stories that inspire children to find pride in every part of their identity. Her work has also been featured in the New Yorker and Bon Appétit.

Dream Chen is an artist with a background in both illustration and animation. She received her BFA in animation at Communication University of China and completed her MFA in visual art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her illustration and animation work has been awarded by competitions and festivals worldwide.


"An excellent vehicle for introducing some essential dishes and Chinese culture in a new way. A delicious take on a familiar trope."—Kirkus

"A familiar story with a fresh twist grounded in Cantonese cooking . . . children will connect with Zia’s struggles and will be encouraged to share their family traditions with others." —School Library Journal

“A simple and sweet story told through a delicious Chinese cultural lens.” —Booklist

“Via a well-trod story arc, the creators detail the meanings behind specific dishes alongside a child learning to appreciate her heritage.” —Publishers Weekly