Food – book reviews

Food – book reviews © Jason and Clare

Children’s book expert Anne Faundez picks out a tantalising selection of food-themed fiction and information books that children will simply devour.

You Can Cook

You Can Cook

Title: You Can Cook (HB)
Author: Annabel Karmel
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Price: £12.99

This mouth-watering book gathers more than 40 simple and nutritious recipes, perfect for children to attempt under adult guidance.

The introductory pages examine the equipment you need, what makes a healthy diet and an assortment of deliciously presented fruit and vegetables.

Recipes are organised as breakfast dishes, light snacks, main meals and desserts. Techniques such as chopping and dicing, zesting and whisking are explained – as are cooking methods and ways of adding extra flavour with, for example, garlic and herbs. For every recipe, there are clear instructions and photos set out sequentially, culminating in an enticing image of the finished dish. A ‘You will need’ panel accompanies each recipe while the preparation and cooking times and the number of servings are indicated at the top of the page. The book is perfect for encouraging children’s cooking skills and developing their interest in healthy eating.

Grow your own

grow your own

Title: Grow Your Own (PB)
Author: Esther Hall
Publisher: Macmillan
Price: £5.99 each

Sydney and his mum live in a bustling city. Everything around is dull, their routines monotonous and the food they eat unappetising. Sydney knows nothing about fresh fruit and vegetables – he’s only ever tasted the insipid mushroom pieces that decorate his pizzas. One summer holiday, he goes to stay with Granny in the countryside. She sets him to work helping out with the vegetable patch. As they weed, dig and plant, day in and day out, Granny explains the benefits of healthy eating. Sydney is impressed: the runner beans certainly help him to run faster, the strawberries put colour into his cheeks and the carrots taste delicious! When it’s time to return to the city, Granny comes up with a brilliant idea to keep him – and his mum – healthy and active.

The strongly geometric pictures, largely composed of circles, squares and rectangles, are appealing in their simplicity and full of interest, depicting an assortment of fruit and vegetables for the reader to identify.

Chickens Can’t See in the Dark

chickens can't see in the dark

Title: Chickens Can’t See in the Dark (PB)
Author: Kristyna Litten
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Price: £10.99 each

Little Pippa has one ambition – to see in the dark. So, when Mr Benedict tells his pupils that chickens don’t have night vision, she sets out to prove him wrong. She consults wise Mr Owl to see what he has to say on the matter, but he laughs her away. Then she discovers a compilation of old hens’ tales in the library, one of which states that carrots help you to see in the dark. She collects a wheelbarrow load of carrots and turns them into every carroty dish imaginable. Excited, the other chickens congregate at her doorstep, drawn there by the wonderful cooking smells. A banquet unfolds, to which all join in. As the day turns to night – and the moon shines brightly on the festive gathering – what conclusion does Pippa reach?

This is an enchanting story, with an open ending that lends itself to lively discussion. The text is full of puns and all things chickeny, the font is as scratchy as a chicken’s footprint and the illustrations delightful, depicting an assortment of plump, individualised chickens, white, brown and speckled, wearing glasses and dainty shoes.

The Princess and the Peas

The Princess and the Peas

Title: The Princess and the Peas (HB)
Author: Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Price: £10.99 each

A boisterous energy fills every page of this wacky cautionary tale. Lily-Rose, pretty and charming in every way, lives a blissful life… until the day that Dad puts some peas on her plate. Horrified, she leaves the table in a tantrum. Dad continues to coax her during the following days, cooking all sorts of scrumptious pea-based recipes. But they make her ill, so finally he admits defeat and calls in the doctor, who diagnoses her symptoms to be those of a princess, drawing parallels with the famous case of the princess and the pea, and packs her off to the nearby palace where there’s not a pea to be found. Once there, Lily-Rose’s excitement at being royalty is short lived as she discovers just what it means to have a pea-free life.

The cheerful rhyming text contributes much to the story’s hilarity and perfectly matches the jolly illustrations of frenzied characters as they dash across the pages from one setting to the next. The incorporation of Andersen’s classic tale as a story within the story – and central to the storyline – adds further humour and a level of sophistication that will delight young readers.

World Food Alphabet

world food alphabet

Title: World Food Alphabet (HB)
Author: Chris Caldicott
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Price: £11.99 each

Arranged alphabetically, here’s a fascinating compendium of foods and food-related matters from around the world. From apricots to zucchini, and all sorts of other foodstuffs along the way, the book provides information on important aspects of everyday food production and preparation, cooking and eating in cultures as far flung as Thailand, Morocco and the Caribbean. There are even entries for markets, journeys and ice – all of which are important aspects of the food process. The photographs are fresh and engaging, filled with people of all ages going about their chores, cultivating their produce or simply enjoying their meal. Truly celebratory, the book is full of interesting facts and stunning photos.

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