Recommended for ages 3-8
Two sisters sit down one morning to talk about the worst breakfast they’ve ever had. It gets progressively worse, from burnt toast, to unbaked, uncooked, unclean baked beans, a steaming, slick tomato hill oozing into rancid swill. Can it get worse? It has to get better… doesn’t it?
This book is just too much fun to read by yourself or a room full of kids, who will squeal with awful glee as the awful breakfast the two sisters describe gets grosser and grosser. Award-winning author China Miéville, best known for his fantasy and science fiction tales, is brilliant as he constructs a hilarious, rhyming tale, told as a conversation between two sisters remembering the worst breakfast ever made. Building on each other’s memory, the sisters one-upping each other and – illustrated in full repulsive glory by Zak Smith – create a mountain of food so terrifying and awful that you have no choice but to squeal and giggle uncontrollably at memories of terrible meals past. And then… a glimmer of hope? Maybe breakfast can be saved, after all.
I love this book. I hope Miéville and Smith have more stories to tell, because this will be a storytime mainstay for me. This would be great for a food storytime. Pair this one with Kate McMullan’s I Stink!, where a garbage truck narrates a stomach-churning alphabet of the “food” he eats on his shift. I’d also pair this with Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen for a surrealist story session; I was reminded of Sendak’s book often as I read The Worst Breakfast. I enjoyed the back and forth between the sisters, and the different British-American references, like the differences in the pronunciation of words like tomato and bravado: “You can’t rhyme TOMATO and BRAVADO!” “I can if we’re English. Almost. Tu-MAH-toe, bruh-VAH-doe.” I love the pictures that Miéville paints with his words and Zak Smith’s wild interpretations that give the words life on the page.
This is a fun tale that’s sure to get the kids interacting during a storytime. If you’ve got readers who enjoy gross humor – and who doesn’t? – this will build their vocabularies and make them howl with disgusted delight. The Worst Breakfast has received a starred review from Kirkus.