It’s official – food has infiltrated children’s literature! And children’s lives! Kids are hearing about nutrition and obesity in schools; they’re studying the food pyramid and doing more physical activity. Numerous organizations are diligently working to improve school lunches in our country. Even Brian Jacques, during his wildly entertaining speech at NYPL’s Bookfest (see Betsy’s recap), spent a significant amount of time discussing the role of food and feasts in his Redwall series.
So it’s not surprising that I have a list of food-related children’s books I’m currently trying to read:
- Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher, illustrated by Sue Hellard (Oct 2008). I have yet to see a copy, but Booklist compared it to Roald Dahl’s work and Kirkus gave it a star. How darling is that cover?
- Kitchen Dance by Maurie Manning (Oct 2008). This is the one I’m most looking forward to – it just looks and sounds jubilant. The reviews are glowing. Quite frankly, I’m hoping that it will reflect the kitchen in my own home, where I’ve laughed endlessly with Adam, where I have sung the entire High School Musical catalog with Kiddo while emptying the dishwasher, and where we always end up hanging out with guests…even though the kitchen is closed off, tiny, and barely fits 4 people. I have high hopes that this book will celebrate the kitchen as the center of a family’s life.
- Little Bunny Can Bake by Janet Stein (March 2009). I heard about this one at the Random House Spring 2009 preview so I haven’t seen it yet. It’s another darling cover.
Unrelated to this particular title, I do have to ask – what’s with the baking trend? Why is it kids and baking are always paired together but cooking gets shorted? I just find that inexplicable. Perhaps publishers are hesitant because of the sharp-knives-so-we-have-to-include-a-safety-warning thing? Disturbing to see a bunny wielding a 10-inch wide-blade Wüsthof (god, I love mine)? I can’t speak for all kids, but I can tell you that Kiddo had just as much fun watching the gratins get crispy in the oven last night as she would have watching cookies bake. And I didn’t have to compete with a sugar crash. The food and the book itself do not necessarily need to be precious to have kid appeal.
- The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Feb 2009). I picked this up at the HarperCollins Spring 2009 preview and have yet to read it. It does trump my earlier question – the main character, an 11-year-old girl, cooks. I like that this one is a full-fledged fiction title and, as soon as I’m finished reading Suite Scarlett, I’m reading this one. An early review is already up at Kidliterate.
One more question: where are the boys cooking? Are we only to look to Sam Stern as the bastion of young males in the kitchen?
Eat, drink, and share food and books with our children
NOTE: Here are my previous posts on foodie books for kids: here and here.