Tag Archive: food


chik chak shabbat

Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker

Every Saturday, the residents of one apartment building spend the day smelling marvelous smells drifting down from the 5th floor.  And every Saturday evening, everyone gathers on the 5th floor for Goldie’s cholent, a traditional Jewish stew.  But then one Saturday, there was no wonderful smell and when little Lali Omar went up the stairs, she found that Goldie was too sick to get the cholent cooking and it was too late to start the slow-cooking stew.  All is not lost though, as the neighbors look through their own pantries and refrigerators and create a Saturday meal that is not cholent but has many of the same ingredients incorporated into foods from their own personal heritages.  There is Korean barley tea, tomato pizza, potato curry, and beans and rice. 

Rockliff’s Shabbat tale is an amazingly diverse story.  While it follows Jewish traditions in the beginning, including Goldie sharing memories as a little girl of Shabbat with her extended family, the magic comes when Goldie gets ill.  Not only does the reader quickly realize how important this shared meal and time is for the entire building, but suddenly the heritage of each person is shown through their food.  It’s a clever way to show community and diversity in a single situation.

Brooker’s illustrations combine cut paper art with rich thick paint.  The result is the same winning combination of dishes served at the community Shabbat table.  The different textures and colors come together to be something more than their individual parts, creating a dynamic world.

Celebrating community, this book shows how diverse people can come together in friendship and harmony to save the day.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

rabbi benjamins buttons

Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

In the fall, the congregation gave Rabbi Benjamin a vest in honor of the new year.  It was yellow with four bright silver buttons down the front and it was a perfect fit.  Rabbi Benjamin wore his vest to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which also involved a lot of food.  Each family offered their own special food for the holiday, and Rabbi Benjamin’s vest was a lot tighter by the end.  During Sukkot, Rabbi visited each of the families and again had lots of food and his vest grew even tighter.  Until on the last day of Sukkot, one of the silver buttons popped right off his vest.  Chanukah came and Rabbi Benjamin ate lots of latke, and he lost a second silver button.  Spring came along with Passover, and the rabbi lost the last two buttons that had tried to stretch across his growing belly.  He was very upset about how he had ruined his special vest.  So he changed a few things.  He got out and moved more along with his congregation.  And when he tried on the vest for Rosh Hashanah, it was far too big to wear.  But don’t worry, Rabbi Benjamin had a loving congregation ready to help him again.

This book has a wonderful radiance about it.  The heart of the book is really the love felt between the congregation and Rabbi Benjamin.  He is unfailingly kind and giving as are they, perhaps a bit too giving when it comes to the food!  At the same time, the story is a smart and very enjoyable way for readers to learn about the various Jewish holidays throughout the year and the traditions associated with them.  The book has an index of the holidays at the end, including recipes for each holiday.  There is also a glossary of Jewish words.

Reinhardt’s illustrations also capture the loving community on the page.  Rabbi Benjamin almost glows on each page, not only due to his shining yellow vest but also with his popping and vibrant personality.  The diverse ethnicities of the congregation is also appreciated.

A cheery look at Jewish holidays and the bounty of friendship and community, this book will be appreciated by people of all faiths.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

alice waters and the trip to delicious

Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Hayelin Choi

A follow-up to Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, Martin continues to focus on food creators in this new book about Alice Waters.  It follows Waters from her studies in France where she learned about food.  When she returned home, she wanted to share her food finds with her friends but her home was too small to accommodate all of them.  So she created a new kind of restaurant that was like eating in someone’s home, Chez: Panisse.  The book follows Waters on her quest to find fresh, locally-grown foods and produce.  It finishes with her focus on children learning to grow their own foods in schoolyards across the country.  This is a picture book biography that will inspire young readers to grow, eat, and discover their own trip to delicious.

Martin’s text reads as verse on the page, the stanzas unrhymed but spare and filled with moments in Waters’ life that are worth lingering over.  Martin explains in simple terms what the goals of Waters are, but she also manages to inspire and let the ideas soar upwards on the page.  She invites young readers to dream their own dreams, offering them a book about how one person accomplished theirs. 

Choi’s art has a great feel to it with a mix of bright colors and a strong organic feel that is entirely appropriate to Waters.  Throughout the illustrations, readers will see how important people are to Waters’ accomplishments from her friends to her team at the restaurants to the children who plant their school gardens. 

A dynamic and delicious look at the life of Alice Waters, filled with all of the mouth-watering moments of her life.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from ARC received from Readers to Eaters.

Review: Relish by Lucy Knisley

relish

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Released April 2, 2013.

This memoir in graphic novel form details Lucy Knisley’s relationship and ongoing love affair with food throughout her childhood and young adulthood.  With each chapter in the book showing an episode in her life that impacted how she related to food, Knisley has penned a book that is not at all about weight watching, but instead the story of how a gourmet is born.  The daughter of a chef, Knisley grew up helping out at farm stalls and working at her mother’s catering jobs.  She also details how her mother both introduced her to the wonders of food in both taste and the way it can connect people.  Each chapter ends with a recipe, showing readers how to create their own sushi or navigate selecting a great cheese.

Knisley’s style is reminiscent of  that of Raina Telgemeier with characters who are drawn with an innate humor but also a profound affection.  Knisley writes of her relationship with food in particular, but the book is also a love letter to her mother and the impact she had on Knisley throughout her life.  I am profoundly grateful for a book about a girl’s relationship with food that does not contain even a moment of weight concern or dieting.  Instead it is about finding or creating great food in one’s life.

Funny and delicious, this book is sure to whet the appetite for more books by Knisley.  Get it into the hands of teens who enjoyed the books by Telgemeier.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Macmillan Children’s Publishing.

after the kill

After the Kill by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Catherine Stock

Explore what happens after the lioness kills a zebra on the Serengeti Plain.  While the hunt and the kill are part of the story, they are only the beginning.  After the zebra is killed, the lion pride comes to eat and then other species start to gather.  There are the vultures who share with the lions.  Then the hyena clan that is able to drive the lions away and claim their share.  Jackals use trickery to grab some food for themselves.  The lions reclaim the carcass and continue to eat until they are sated.  Other vultures arrive.  The small scraps of flesh that remain are eaten by meat-eating beetles until the bones are white in the African sun. 

Lunde, a mammalogist at the Smithsonian Institute, creates a compelling story here.  There is no shying away from predator and prey, just a frank description of the food chain.  Nicely, Lunde injects his narrative with plenty of detail, noises, and an obvious love of his subject.  He paints a verbal picture of what is happening, helping young readers better understand what is actually happening.  The pieces of the book in the smaller font have additional scientific information that readers will find fascinating. 

Stock’s illustrations have a bright, hot quality to them thanks to the yellow tones throughout.  The heat of Africa is built into every page.  She also embraces the kill, the scavenging, and the story, creating a book filled with action-filled images.

An unflinching look at the battle for food on the Serengeti Plain, this book will be riveting for young readers.  Appropriate for ages 5-8, though this is a book that some children may find upsetting, so it is important to be aware of the sensitivity of the child you are sharing it with.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

worms for lunch

Worms for Lunch? by Leonid Gore

Through bright colors and die cut illustrations, young readers explore what different animals eat.  The book begins with the question of “Who eats worms for lunch?”  A mouse declares that he doesn’t eat worms, instead he likes cheese.  A relieved worm disappears from the page.  Then a cat spots the mouse, and says that that’s what she would like for lunch.  She ends up with a bowl of milk.  The cow then declares that milk may be good, but grass is better.  On the book goes, moving from one animal to the next until finally the question of who eats worms for lunch can be answered! 

This entire book has a great sense of play and humor about it.  Every other page has a die cut, making the book more enticing for young children to experience.  The simple text and the bright colors combine into a book that is just right for toddlers to enjoy.  They will enjoy turning the page and having the story change too. 

With its large illustrations, this would work well with a group of children.  A good pick for a toddler story time about food.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic Press.

Also reviewed by

betty bunny

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Betty Bunny’s parents are always telling her that she’s a handful.  Since she knows they love her very much, she is certain that being a handful is something very, very good.  One day, her mother offers chocolate cake for dessert.  Betty Bunny refuses to try it at first, because it is new, but then gives in.  She realizes that it is very delicious, so delicious that she decides that she will marry chocolate cake.  The next day, she is obsessed with chocolate cake, unable to concentrate at all at school.  Once she got home, she was told she would have to eat a healthy dinner before she could have cake.  When her siblings tease her, Betty gets angry and throws food.  She’s sent to her room where she continues to think only of cake.  The next day, she is told there is a piece of cake just for her waiting in the refrigerator if only she will be patient through the day.  Betty Bunny knows the cake will be lonely all day, so she puts it in her pocket.  At home that evening, she realizes it has become a goopy mess in her pocket.  Her mother tries again, leaving a piece of cake just for her.  What in the world could Betty do next?

I know that this book will have some parents frustrated because it is not a picture book that demonstrates exemplary behavior from the children in the story.  But that is where the appeal of this book is for me.  Betty Bunny reads as a real child with an obsession.  She cries, gets angry, and thinks about it all the time.  But this book is not just about a child obsessed.  It is also the story of a family with older siblings and parents who use humor and clever approaches to deal with a child. 

The writing has wonderful moments built into it.  Betty’s insistence that she will marry chocolate cake because she loves it so much rings very real.  Her brother’s teasing about that over the course of days also reads as true.  It is a picture book that is written by people who have children, love children, and appreciate the humor that comes with them.

Jorisch’s illustrations are done in pencil, ink, watercolor and gouache.  They have a great mix of organic watercolor feel and angular modernism.  There is a bright warmth to them thanks to how colorful they are and a pleasant busyness that depicts the active family.

Highly recommended, this is not a book for parents who want an example for how their children should act.  But it is a great read-aloud filled with chocolate, sweets, temper tantrums and family.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.

Also reviewed by

rahrahradishes

Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

Get into the summer veggie crunching mood with this book that celebrates vegetables of all sorts! 

Rah, rah, radishes! Red and white.

Carrots are calling.  Take a bite.

Oh boy, bok choy! Brussels sprout.

Broccoli.  Cauliflower.  Shout it out!

With a rhythm that is great fun and contagious, this book will have even the most dubious children cheering for vegetables too.  

Sayre pairs her rhymes with bright photographs of vegetables from farmer’s markets.  The freshness is apparent as is the abundance.  It’s an ideal setting for celebrating farming and food.  Her photographs are as crisp as the pea pods and as colorful as the peppers. 

A great introduction to trying new foods or visiting a farmer’s market, this book is a celebration of good eats.  Yum!  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

Also reviewed by:

fandangostew

Fandango Stew by David Davis, illustrated by Ben Galbraith

A wild west version of Stone Soup, this book will have you singing the praises of Fandago Stew too.  Luis and his grandfather, Slim, come to the town of Skinflint with their stomachs already rumbling with hunger.  But they also have a plan, Fandango Stew.  Unfortunately, the local sheriff is not happy to have them in town and tries to run them out.  But he agrees that Luis and Slim can boil water and throw in their bean.  Slim and Luis break into song “Chili’s good, so is barbecue, but nothing’s finer than Fandango Stew!”  One-by-one the people of Skinflint begin to contribute, shamed into it when Slim and Luis talk about the Fandango Stew they made in other towns and the generosity shown there.  Well, Skinflint may be frugal, but no one calls them stingy!  As each new component is added, Slim and Luis reprise their song, adding new harmony parts.  In the end, you know the story of delicious stew created by a community but this time it has some western seasoning added too.

Davis has created a fun and stylized version of the traditional tale.  The incorporation of the western setting is well developed and adds an interesting dimension to the story.  As the story and the stew develops, the inclusion of the entire community and their pride and willingness to turn it into a party make for a jubilant read.  The use of the song after each addition to the stew adds a strong structure to the book as well.

Galbraith’s illustrations are filled with texture and color.  Everything from the ropes to the boards of the houses to the corrugated roofs add to the rich feel.  As the book progresses, the illustrations move from a sepia toned sparse color to richer colors. 

A rootin’ tootin’ good recipe for a book!  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by BooksForKidsBlog.

cazuelafarmmaiden

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

This is a fresh, fabulous cumulative tale that is made spicier and more interesting thanks to the Spanish sprinkled liberally throughout.  It is the story of a farm maiden who stirred a pot.  Once she started stirring, all of the animals wanted to help with what she was cooking.  The cow gave milk, the hen gave eggs and zested the lime which was picked by the donkey who was carrying the duck to the market.  Eventually everyone is waiting for the treat to be finished until they started playing music and dancing.  Then no one was watching or stirring the pot!  Thank goodness that they returned just in time to enjoy the arroz con leche that they had all cooked together.

When I read this book to myself silently it really didn’t work, but read aloud it merrily dances along, even with my very imperfect Spanish pronunciation.  For classes in our community, the blend of Spanish and English is very desirable.  Happily, the Spanish here forms the real foundation of the story rather than just being extra words that are thrown in.

Lopez’s art is so vibrant and warm.  The sun shines when you open the book, thanks to the use of a beautiful yellow for the majority of the background.  Add to it the purple clouds tinged with red, the orange ground, and the vibrant green of the plants, and you have a book where the colors are filled with heat and spice.

A rollicking picture book that celebrates Spanish and English mixed together sweetly, just like the perfect arroz con leche.  Appropriate for ages 3-5, and in language classes for older children.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

Check out the book trailer to get a feel for the book and the illustrations:

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