Hsyu’s retelling has a folkloric simplicity, planting just enough details to ground readers in the traditional tale. Pak’s mixed-media illustrations evoke a misty, long-ago agrarian China, his expressive, angular faces contrasting pleasingly with fluid, lovingly created backdrops. […] A breath of fresh air in its beauty and simplicity.
Hsyu debuts with a fine retelling of a Chinese folktale about a hardworking bachelor whose kindness is rewarded. […] Working in a pale, muted palette, Pak (Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?) contributes airy, rough-textured compositions that evoke both contemporary animation and ancient, weathered frescoes as the story takes a serpentine path to a happy ending.
Hsyu and Pak have revived a Chinese folktale, keeping the flavor of ancient China while making the story appealing to a modern audience. […] A solid choice for multicultural folktale collections.
—School Library Journal
Kenard Pak’s art is undoubtedly what makes Dinner a standout. His elongated characters with expressions he can conjure with just a few lines, the earthy palette of browns, blues, and greens he uses as if to ground the ethereal magic into something of this world, the use of various textures to create infinite backgrounds of mountains and sky, are just a few of his attentive, exquisite details.
—Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Everything about The Dinner That Cooked Itself is delicious! The story, the spellbinding illustrations, and its sweetly surprising ending are elegant and magical.
—This Picture Book Life