Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Yum! Books about Food

It’s getting near to Thanksgiving here in the States, but that’s another post. Here, it’s late afternoon, so I’ve got the snacky urge – you know, that urge that hits after lunch, but while dinner is still too long away to wait? Let’s talk about food books and see if that takes the edge off (or I’ll just brew a cup of coffee, while I’m at it).

Little Green Donkey, by Anuska Allepuz, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209372

Ages 3-6

In this relatable story that will give preschoolers and grownups a giggle, Little Donkey LOVES to eat grass, even when his mom pleads for him to try something different. Little Donkey just responds, “No thanks!” and keeps munching on leafy, chewy grass until waking up one morning and discovering, upon seeing his reflection, that – AHHH! – he’s turned GREEN! After unsuccessfully trying to disguise the new color, Little Donkey has to try new foods: Blech! Pew! Pew! Yuck! But hey… carrots are pretty good… watch out, Little Donkey! What color will you turn next? Mixed media illustrations bring this hilarious story to life, and kids and parents alike will recognize the picky eater in all of us (I’ve got a chicken nugget Kiddo here, myself). Pair this with Greg Pizzoli’s The Watermelon Seed for extra laughs and dramatic reading.

 

Every Night is Pizza Night, by J. Kenji López-Alt/Illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero, (Sept. 2020, Norton Young Readers), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-324-00525-4

Ages 4-7

Pipo is a little girl who loves pizza. Pizza is the best, and she wants it every night, no matter what her family says: after all, she says it’s a scientific fact; she’s done the research. But maybe…. just maybe she needs to collect more data, so off she goes to visit friends around the neighborhood and try their foods. For data collection, clearly. As she tries different foods like bibimbap, tagine, red beans and rice, and more, she discovers that other foods are really good, too! Pipo learns that pizza can be the best, along with other foods, too: it just depends on what you need at that moment. Beautifully written with humor and sensitivity, Every Night is Pizza Night looks at the connection we have to food within our cultures and our homes and hearts: Pipo learns that food can be “something that reminds you of home”; “the kind that says ‘I love you’ without making a sound’, or something to share”. Food brings us together. Front endpapers feature all the pizza makings splashed colorfully across the spread, and back endpapers incorporate other ingredients for the foods Pipo discovers in the story. The artwork is colorful, bright, a touch frenetic when Pipo declares her love for pizza, and adorably delivers the story’s message. A pizza recipe at the end of the book invites readers to cook with their families. Pair with William Stieg’s Pete’s a Pizza for a tasty, ticklish pizza storytime.

 

Hot Pot Night!, by Vincent Chen, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-120-0

Ages 4-7

This modern take on Stone Soup is diverse and adorable. It’s evening in a building, and everyone asks the eternal question: What’s for dinner? A young boy proposes hot pot, a traditional dish in Asian countries, and the whole building is in! Neighbors arrive with a hot pot and ingredients to share: one neighbor brings the broth; another, the meat; one grew the vegetables to add to the pot, and others help out by prepping the food. Once it’s ready, everyone partakes until the last scrap is gone… until next time! A story of coming together and sharing food, culture, and company, Hot Pot Night is perfect for storytime reading and would be great with flannel board figures you can easily make. Digital illustrations are colorful, bright, and fun. A hot pot recipe at the end encourages readers to start their own hot pot nights. Endpapers feature colorful hot pot ingredients.

While we can’t eat together as often as we’d like these days, there’s always Zoom and Google Meets. Try a virtual storytime and dinner one night! Publisher Charlesbridge has loads of free downloadables for a Hot Pot party!

 

Veg Patch Party, by Clare Foges/Illustrated by Al Murphy, (Oct. 2020, Faber & Faber), $15.95, ISBN: 978-0571352852

Ages 3-7

From the team that brought you Kitchen Disco and Bathroom Boogie, we get a Veggie Patch-a-Palooza as the farm beds down for the night and the vegetables take the stage to dance and sing in the mud for a Veg Patch Party! Kids will love seeing cartoon pumpkins put on disco boots, carrots forming a conga line, and red hot chillis rock out on stage. The rhyming story has great repetition with its call to action: “So conga like a carrot, / Party like a pea, / Rock out like a radish, / YEAH! / And boogie like a bean!” Bathroom Boogie went over huge for me at storytime, so I’ll be enjoying Veg Patch Party with my littles next. Perfect for flannel storytimes, and there are lots of cute vegetable coloring pages to have handy. I like doing a “cute vegetable coloring pages” search so you get animated, kid-friendly faces, like this selection. Endpapers have veggie sketches with smiling vegetables to greet readers. Pair with one of my oldies but goodies, Food Fight, for a storytime about feisty food.

 

Posted in Humor, Preschool Reads

Fun with Food: The Great Pasta Escape

The Great Pasta Escape, by Miranda Paul/Illustrated by Javier Joaquin, (Aug. 2017, Little Bee/Bonnier), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0480-5

Recommended for readers 3-7

Different types of pasta learn the ugly truth about where they really go once they leave in those cute little packages, and take action in this hilarious story.  Pasta followed the rules: they stuck to their own kind; they stayed still in their packaging, and they NEVER spoke to humans. They thought they were bound for a better place; a happy, carefree existence, until the fettuccine overhears some factory workers talking about how hungry they are… *needle scratch* and what they plan to eat. Fettucine panics, and the rest of the pasta gets ready for action: Bow Tie tries to stay logical; Ramen is ready to rumble; elbow-shaped Mac just wants everyone to chill. Together, the different pasta types come together to carry out the greatest escape in pasta history.

This book is a current favorite at home because it’s so funny. The pastas have their own personalities, some of which tie into their shapes, like the professorial Bow Tie. My favorite is Mac, the elbow pasta who has a total New Age look on life and envisions himself by the water, doing some yoga. It’s a fun adventure story; pure escapism and laughs, with a Menu – sorry! I mean, Guide to Pasta Shapes – at the end. The art is vibrant and bright, and the endpapers sports different types of pasta in the front, and a boxed spaghetti-look at the back.

I pair this one with an oldie but goodie, Food Fight! by Carol Diggory Shields/Illustrated by Doreen Gay-Kassel, for a fun food storytime. You can read Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona for a story about pasta that gets out of control, and pasta necklaces are perfect for a craft pairing. Ask your kiddos what types of pasta they recognize in the book, and see what you’ve got in the house to identify.

Miranda Paul is an award-winning author who has a great author website where you can find resources, including downloadable teacher guides to her books (and a blobfish coloring sheet!!!) and videos. She’s also the chair of the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Committee. You can find more of illustrator Javier Joaquin’s illustrations at his website, including a section of his children’s book work, where you can filter by subject or style to see everything from nonfiction to board books to classics and more.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Join Porcupine’s Picnic!

porcupines-picnicPorcupine’s Picnic: Who Eats What?, by Betsy R. Rosenthal/Illustrated by Giusi Capizzi, (Feb. 2017, Millbrook Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781467795197

Recommended for ages 4-6

Porcupine is going on a picnic! He packs a basket full of clover and settles into a perfect spot. Nearby animals ask to join him, and bring their own food: koala loves his eucalyptus, squireel enjoys his acorns, and giraffe nibbles on his leaves. When Tiger shows up, though, the picnic comes to a very quick end!

This is a cute introduction to different animals and what they eat. An explanation at the end of the book introduces readers to herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores, and points out which animals from the story belong to which group. The digital art is very cute, and the reptitive pattern of the story – animal asks to join, Porcupine offers clover, animal declines and eats his or her own food – will appeal to younger readers, who can predict what will happen next. The story does tend to go on a bit long, at 40 pages, and could have used a few less animals; I worry about younger readers’ interest as the story proceeds. This would be a good flannel story candidate: create animals and foods, and invite storytime audiences to match the animal with the food on the flannel board, or even make up a worksheet and/or memory game to hand out after the story. An additional purchase for animal collections.

Posted in Toddler Reads

Toddler fun with Little Billy-Bob and friends

I’ve enjoyed Pauline Oud’s board books for little ones; she always has such adorable faces on her cartoony toddlers. Clavis Books has just released two more in her Little Billy-Bob series – numbers 3 and 4, I believe – and they’re great for toddlers and their favorite grownups to snuggle up and read together.

billybobeatsLittle Billy-Bob Eats It All Up (Nov. 2016, $12.95, 978-1605372969) stars Little Billy-Bob, in his ever-present footie pajama set and animal eared-hood, and his friend, Fifi, similarly dressed. The two friends are playing together when their tummies start rumbling: it’s time to eat! Together, the two eat a healthy lunch and notice their happy bellies fill up.

Little Billy-Bob goes through his bedtime ritual: brushing his teeth, climbing out of his bed to say goodnight to the moon, his pets, and his toys in Good Night, Little Billy-Bob (Nov. 2016, $12.95, 978-1605372952).

Toddlers will see themselves in Little Billy-Bob (and Fifi!) as they go through rituals that toddlers are beginning to master on their own: feeding themselves; drinking water from a cup; brushing teeth, and getting ready for bed. Each book begins with the same rhyme, opposite Little Billy-Bob reading his own book, and invites readers to curl up in a lap and enjoy reading and cuddle time. Both books also offer questions throughout the book, helping readers further engage their little ones: Can you brush your teeth just like little Billy-Bob? Do you see the moon, too? Do you see their empty tummies too Do you think they should eat something? These questions are fun springboards for questions of your own; I like to use questions that have kids incorporate their own experiences. For instance, “Remember when your belly growled this morning? Did you eat breakfast when your tummy grumbled?”

Each story ends with a counting summary of the story subject: “One slice of toast and you will grow; two slices of apple and pear. What else do you like?”

These aren’t quite board books, but the covers are board and the heavy stock pages will stand up to multiple readings. The art is cartoony and fun, and it’s nice to see some diversity with Fifi, who is a child of color. Illustrations are pastel and calming, boldly outlined for definition, against pastel backgrounds. These are my first experience with the Billy-Bob books, but I do love Pauline Oud’s artwork and highly recommend her other series, Ian, Lily and Milo, and Piggy. Check out her website for more about the books, and see more books from Clavis’ Fall lineup right here.  These are sweet little books about toddler daily routines that little ones will enjoy – and they invite you to cuddle up and read, which is my personal mission, so they’re a win for me.