Dynamic Book Duos: Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams!

Please welcome authors Patricia Tanumihardja and Kimberly Lee to Dynamic Book Duos – a blog featuring two books that pair together in a meaningful way along with educational activities to strengthen reading skills. This week’s pairing focuses on two Malaysian boys who don’t give up on their dreams!

PERFECT PAIR: Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams!

Jimmy’s Shoes: The Story of Jimmy Choo, Shoemaker to a Princess written by Patricia Tanumihardja and illustrated by Derek Desierto and Boys Don’t Fry written by Kimberly Lee and illustrated by Charlene Chua can be meaningfully paired together because they are first and foremost about talented boys from the same part of the world—Malaysia! Both Jimmy and Jin are determined to pursue their dream, despite the obstacles they face. The stories also showcase how the main characters succeed and thrive with the love and support of family members. Both showcase the power of resilience, challenging self-doubt and believing in oneself. 

Book 1: Jimmy’s Shoes: The Story of Jimmy Choo, Shoemaker to a Princess

On the island of Penang, Jimmy Choo is born into a family of shoemakers. At his father’s side, he learns to make all kinds of shoes—loafers, stilettos, slippers, and more.

After learning all he can at home, Jimmy immigrates to London, where he can study shoemaking by day and English by night. Nothing comes easy for newcomer Jimmy, but he works hard until he can launch his own business. At his Lucky Shoes, Jimmy specializes in shoes made just for the customer. Before long, he starts to make waves in the London fashion scene. One day, he gets a call from a very special customer—Diana, Princess of Wales, wants him to design shoes just for her. And the rest is history!

“Jimmy’s Shoes” is not only a story of hard work and perseverance but also a celebration of family and defying expectations.

Book 2: Boys Don’t Fry

Jin wishes his family would ask him to help prepare the Lunar New Year feast. But boys, or Babas, never get asked—only Nyonyas, the girls.

It’s the eve of Lunar New Year, and Jin can’t wait for the big family reunion dinner. He loves the aromas and the bubbly chatter coming from the kitchen. His grandmother, Mamah, is cooking up a storm!

As his aunties dice, slice, and chop, there’s nothing Jin wants more than to learn about the history of his family’s cooking and to lend them a helping hand. After all, no one else can tell the difference between ginger and galangal as well as he can! But his aunties shoo him away, claiming he’ll just get bored or be in the way. Luckily, Mamah steps in and asks Jin to help her prepare their special meal. Soon, Jin is squeezing, slicing, and stirring, too!

This loving picture book about a young Malaysian boy who defies gender expectations will make hearts warm and stomachs hungry. With beautifully vibrant illustrations of a traditional nyonya kitchen, Boys Don’t Fry is a heartfelt celebration of family, culture, and traditions—both old and new.


Activity for Boys Don’t Fry:

Sketching the Main Character (courtesy of the book’s illustrator, Charlene Chua)

Activities for Jimmy’s Shoes:

Design Your Own Shoe, Do a Word Search Puzzle, and Make an Origami Shoe

Activites for Both Books:

Learn About Malaysia!

  • Locate Malaysia on a map or globe.
  • Read other books set in Malaysia and discuss.
  • Eat/cook a traditional Malaysian dish.
  • Make a traditional craft
  • Learn a few words in Malay (official language of Malysia)—hello, how are you, count to “10”
  • Learn about a special holiday celebrated in Malaysia—Eid, Lunar New Year, etc.


Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw is an award-winning nonfiction children’s book author and former elementary special education teacher who is passionate about growing young minds. Suzanne’s first nonfiction picture book, I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks, debuted in April 2019 from Warren Publishing. Her second book Mighty Mahi launched from Doodle and Peck Publishing in March 2022. Suzanne enjoys speaking to schools about writing, leadership, and how kids can make a difference in our world. The proud momma of two grown boys, Suzanne lives in Waterford, MI with her husband and furry writing companion Ziggy. When she’s not dreaming up new writing projects, you can find her kayaking on the lake, hiking the trail, practicing at the yoga studio, or comparing paint swatches at the local Sherwin Williams.

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