Posted in picture books

Pizza vs. World: A Pizza With Everything On It

A Pizza with Everything on It, by Kyle Scheele/Illustrated by Andy J. Pizza, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.9,9, ISBN: 9781797202815

Ages 4-8

“When your dad owns a pizza shop, you can have whatever kind of pizza you want”: so begins this light-hearted story about a boy, his father, and their quest to make a pizza with everything on it. The story starts off with the usual pizza toppings: four cheese, pepperoni, peppers, even mushrooms, but quickly spirals out of control as they add progressively bigger, wilder things, from a blender and rolling pin to a particle accelerator. The ensuing pizza vortex threatens to destroy the universe: can the boy and his father save the day? A fun afternoon spent with a boy and his dad, and a witty, playful story that readers will love. Mixed media illustrations are colorful, with plenty of pizza-red and yellows, and endpapers show the before- and after-effects of universal pizza domination. I’d add this one to my Pizza Storytime and add flannels: ALL the flannels, as I invite my Kiddos to come up and add whatever they would add to their own pizza with everything on it. You can even create a Food Destroys World storytime with books like Dragons Love Tacos and Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel and Llama Destroys the World and Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse. A great family storytime choice.

A Pizza with Everything on It has a starred review from Booklist.

Posted in picture books

Pie for Breakfast brings everyone together!

Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids, by Cynthia Cliff, (Apr. 2021, Prestel Junior), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791374604

Ages 6-9

Hazel and her dad love baking together, and the house smells delicious when they do! When Hazel has the idea to organize a bake sale for the school fair, with the proceeds benefiting the library, she recruits her friends and their families to help, with delicious results! Each family’s recipe makes it into Pie for Breakfast, and they sound delicious: pumpkin empanadas, vegan chocolate cake, easy jam tarts, nankhatai cookies, and strawberry mochi are only a few of the fourteen recipes you’ll find in here. Each spread features an illustration of one of Hazel’s friends and, in some cases, family members, baking in their home; the opposite page has the recipe laid out, step by step, with all the ingredients listed. Pie for Breakfast is recipe book within a story, and it’s inclusive in every way: families are multicultural and diverse in every way. Families from different cultures enrich the bake sale with their own recipes, making for a rich bake sale menu. Important tips for baking are in the back matter, including making sure an adult is there to oversee and help out. The artwork is cheerful and colorful, and the endpapers lay out the feast that awaits within the book. What a fun book!

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, picture books, Tween Reads

Olaf Hajek gives veggies their due: Veggie Power!

Veggie Power, by Annette Roeder/Illustrated by Olaf Hajek, (Apr. 2021, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374789

Ages 8-12

After profiling nature’s healing flowers in last year’s Flower Power, artist Olaf Hajek turns his illustrative magic to elevating vegetables to high art in Veggie Power. Seventeen vegetables receive the portrait treatment here, with Annette Roeder’s informative discussions on each spread giving readers a background of featured vegetables, with fun and interesting facts (fennel bulbs were stuffed into keyholes during Midsummer, to ward off bad spirits for the year), edible parts of each plant, and varieties of each. Annette Roeder makes reading about vegetables fun – honest! – and Olaj Hajek’s gallery art treatment may actually make kids tempted to try some of these beauties. (Maybe. This is not a guarantee.) A woman sports a majestic fennel bulb crown as a bird flies overhead and a man and woman make a stew or soup in front of her. Animals approach a giant sweet potato plant growing across the ground as a hand rises from the bottom of the book, bowl full of sweet potatoes in hand. A group of individuals sit around a long table, ready to dine on a giant carrot and parsnip. It’s fun, it’s surreal, it’s colorful, it’s a coffee table art book on vegetables. Enjoy.

Source: OlafHajek.com

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Measuring Up brings together two worlds

Measuring Up, by Lily LaMotte/Illustrated by Ann Xu, (Oct. 2020, Harper Alley), $12.99, ISBN: 9780062973863

Ages 8-13

Twelve-year old Cici is a Taiwanese girl whose parents are moving to Seattle. She’s not thrilled about leaving her life behind in Taiwan, especially her A-má, the grandmother that helped raise her. While she and A-má video chat, she misses her grandmother terribly and wishes she could bring her to the States. School is okay, but there are the inevitable comments from bullies; even her new friends tend to lump her in with “Chinese” as opposed to “Taiwanese”. Cici wants so much to bring A-má to Seattle to celebrate her 70th birthday, and a kids’ cooking contest offers her the perfect chance to do it: the grand prize will pay for A-má’s ticket! Cici has a few hurdles to overcome, though: her father’s insistence on prioritizing schoolwork over everything else, including cooking; the fact that she only knows how to cook Taiwanese food, and being intimidated by one of the other contestands, a girl named Miranda, whose family owns a popular restaurant and who was practically raised in kitchens. With some help from a friendly librarian (hi!) who introduces her to Julia Child, Cici begins finding her own “courage and conviction” – and that inspires her as she finds herself in her new country.

Cici navigates two worlds in Measuring Up: her Taiwanese world and her new, American world; neither of which make her entirely comfortable all the time. She struggles to “fit in” with her American friends, with new activities like sleepovers – that don’t sit so easily with her parents – and her discomfort with her friends seeing “how Taiwanese” her home life is. Learning to cook with Julia Child’s recipes, and Child’s willingness to not be perfect, gives her the confidence to step outside her comfort zone. Working with Miranda is intimidating at first, but with her newfound confidence, Cici begins trusting herself and finds her voice in the competition and with Miranda, too. It’s an exciting development to watch unfold across the pages, and the colorful artwork is eye-catching. Readers who enjoy slice-of-life, coming of age books like Shannon Hale’s Real Friends books, Victoria Jamieson’s All’s Faire in Middle School, Remy Lai’s Pie in the Sky will love Measuring Up. The New York Times has a great article on food-related novels for kids, too; it’s a great piece on how we connect food, family, and culture. and and Visit author Lily LaMotte’s webpage and find out more about the book, including a recipe from the story.

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic

Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic, by Wauter Mannaert, (Feb. 2021, First Second), $14.99, ISBN: 9781250622051

Ages 10+

Yasmina is a young chef who loves to work with food. Her dad works in a french fry restaurant (frites! frites!) where he coworkers eat their fill of fast food, while Yasmina makes sure to send her father healthy greens, spring rolls, and vegetable dishes. The family is strapped for cash, so Yasmina gets her fresh ingredients from her wacky friends at the neighborhood garden and, occasionally, from the mysterious neighbor’s rooftop garden. But something weird is afoot when the community garden is bought out by a wealthy corporation and plowed over with scientifically enhanced potatoes that cause some strange behavior in anyone who eats them! Not only are they obsessed with the taters, they’ve started barking, slobbering, and howling at the moon. Yasmina needs to find out what’s going on, fast!

Yasmina is quirky, but tends to be a little hard to follow. The smaller panels contribute to this; it’s hard to see what’s going on and subtle nuances may go missing with a first read. The artwork is fun and colorful, with exaggerated facial expressions and body behavior, but the main point of the plot – the genetically modified foods versus the small community garden – may get lost. Overall, an interesting read that I’m going to put in my library and talk up, because I think it’s a good book for discussion, but this may be an additional purchase for strapped budgets.

Posted in Young Adult/New Adult

Blog Tour: Nourish (one for the grownups!)

I know this is MomReadIt, and I talk mainly about kids books, but every now and then, I put up something for the grownups. Nourish is a nutrition guide for parents and caregivers with information, advice, and recipes for creating a plant-based life for you and your littles – or just incorporating more plant-based food into their diets.  From pregnancy to teen, Nourish is comprehensive, with easy-to-understand discussions of plant-based food, micronutrients, supplements, and getting the whole family on board are just the beginning of what you’ll find in here. For anyone who wants to work on getting a healthier diet onto their tables and into their lunchboxes, start with Nourish. I’ll be keeping their “no recipe meals” advice on my fridge for those days when I need to bring something to work for lunch, but have no idea what I want to eat.

Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families,
by Reshma Shah, MD, MPH and Brenda Davis, RD, (November 2020, HCI),
$18.95, ISBN: 9780757323621

Enjoy an excerpt from Nourish:

10 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY FAMILY TABLE

Excerpt adapted from Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families by Reshma Shah, MD, MPH and Brenda Davis, RD (November 2020, HCI). More at nourishthebook.com.

As parents and guardians of children, we are tasked with ensuring that our family table is a place where cultural traditions are honored, community is celebrated, and each family member is well nourished. Sometimes balancing nutrition with joy and connection can be challenging for parents. Here are 10 healthy eating tips to make nourishing your family simple and mindful.

  1. Eat a variety of foods from each food group. The greater the variety of foods included from each group, the greater the diversity of nutrients, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants you will consume. When you make healthy choices from each food group, you establish healthy eating patterns that cover a lifetime of protection.
  2. Make water your beverage of choice. Beverages can easily be the downfall of any dietary pattern. They may contain unwanted sugars, sodium, saturated fat, caffeine, and/or alcohol (in adult beverages). Water is critical to overall health and is the most effective beverage for quenching thirst. To increase water intake, drink it hot or cold, drink it with your meals and between your meals, drink it during physical activity, and carry a reusable water bottle with you. To provide a flavor boost, add fruit pieces, lime, lemon, mint, cucumbers, cinnamon sticks and/ or a frozen juice cube. Use soda water as a base to make it fizzy.
  3. Skip the highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are major contributors to the excess consumption of unhealthy fats, refined sugars and starches, salt, and potentially harmful food additives. Examples of highly processed foods are fast foods, deep-fried foods, sweet baked goods, sugar-laden ice creams and frozen treats, salty snacks, candy bars, candies, and sweet beverages. While you don’t have to eliminate these foods altogether, consider reserving them as occasional foods in your family’s diet. To curb intake of highly processed foods, start by slowly replacing some of these foods with healthier options. For example, instead of store-bought cookies and muffins, try making homemade baked goods with nutritious ingredients; swap out French fries for oven-baked “fries.”
  4. Keep sodium intake moderate. Over 70 percent of our sodium comes from processed food, about 15 percent is naturally present in whole food and only about 10 percent comes from salt added during cooking and at the table. The balance comes mostly from water and dietary supplements. So, reducing processed foods will put a major dent in your sodium load.

Be aware of foods that are hyper concentrated in sodium such as pickles and olives, as generous intakes can quickly lead to excess. You can easily adjust the amount used in cooking and at the table, if need be. Kids can overconsume sodium as well, and as diet habits are formed in childhood, reducing intake can help promote long-term health.

  1. Read food labels. Food labels can supply information that will help you to make more healthful choices. The most valuable information is provided in the nutrition facts and ingredient list. The Nutrition Facts provide information about serving size, calories, and some nutrients (as a percent of the Daily Value). The ingredient list tells you about the ingredients in order of their weight in the product. It is common practice to try to fool customers by including multiple forms of less desirable ingredients such as sugar, so they all end up lower on the ingredient list. For example, instead of listing 16 grams of cane sugar per serving, a manufacturer might list 4 grams each of cane sugar, dextrose, maltose, and corn syrup. You can use the food label to help you compare products and choose those with less sugar, less salt, less fat, and more fiber. Additionally, nutrition claims (“high in fiber,” “low in sugar,” or “high in protein”) are often depicted on a label. Foods must meet specific criteria to make these claims, and generally the healthiest foods (think broccoli!) don’t require a label to convince you of their nutritional benefit.
  2. Be savvy about food marketing. Food marketing is advertising that attempts to sell you a product. Most marketing is for products that are highly processed like presweetened cereals or toaster pastries, rather than for broccoli or blueberries. A significant amount of this advertising is directed towards children. Food marketing is designed to convince you or your children that a product is superior to its competitor’s (for example, in taste, convenience, or nutrition) or that it will provide you with some desirable outcome—higher energy, more strength, better looks, or a more robust social life. Being savvy about marketing will help you and your children to avoid being deceived by a sales pitch.
  3. Prepare meals at home. Cooking your own food means that you control what goes into your meals, including the amount of fat, sugar, and salt. You will be reducing highly processed foods and saving money for healthier foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits. It’s perfectly alright to purchase some ready-to-eat greens, pre-cut or frozen vegetables, pasta sauces, salsa, pre-seasoned tofu, or ready-to-eat veggie burgers to reduce meal prep time.
  4. Make your foods appealing and enjoyable. Making foods appealing and enjoyable leads to more positive eating experiences for your family. Take the time to present your food attractively by using colorful vegetables and fruits, herbs, and sauces. Kids love fun food, like bear-shaped pancakes or fruit plated in a flower shape. Be creative, adventurous, and open to experiencing new flavors. Weave in traditions from your family’s culture. Set an attractive table, light some candles, put on some soft music, and enjoy the company.
  5. Eat with others. When you eat with others—family, friends, colleagues, or neighbors, you will connect in a valuable way. Eating together allows you to share your cultural traditions, to explore new foods, and to have quality time with others. Enjoy your meal at a leisurely pace, and get rid of distractions such as TV and cell phones.
  6. Eat mindfully. Being mindful about your food choices means being more conscious about where your food comes from, how it is selected, and how it arrives on your table. It means experiencing your food’s appearance, taste, and texture, and appreciating the effort that went into procuring and preparing the food. It means being aware of your eating behaviors and trying to take steps to improve them, such as removing distractions, slowing down to enjoy your food, spacing meals and snacks, and creating an inviting environment.

Website: nourishthebook.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/nourishthebook/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/nourishthebook/

Buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nourish-Definitive-Plant-Based-Families-Connection/dp/0757323626/ref=sr_1_1?crid=31G6K33FJPUWD&dchild=1&keywords=nourish+the+definitive+plant-based+nutrition+guide+for+families&qid=1602864459&sprefix=Nourish%3A+the+%2Caps%2C192&sr=8-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nourish-dr-reshma-shah-md/1136472931?ean=9780757323621

 

RESHMA SHAH, MD, MPH is an affiliate clinical instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine and has been a practicing pediatrician for nearly 20 years. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children. Most Sundays, you can find her at the California Avenue Farmers Market in Palo Alto where she finds inspiration for weekly family meals. reshmashahmd.com

BRENDA DAVIS, RD is a registered dietitian and widely regarded as a rock star of plant-based nutrition. VegNews called her “The Godmother of vegan dietitians.” She has been a featured speaker at medical and nutrition conferences in over 20 countries on 5 continents and is the author of 11 books on vegetarian and vegan nutrition. In 2007, she was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. She lives in Calgary with her husband, Paul. She has two grown children and two beautiful grandchildren. brendadavisrd.com

 

More stops on the Nourish tour!

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 Uncategorized

Celebrating Ignacio (Nacho) Anaya on National Nacho Day!

Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, by Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez, (Aug. 2020, Lee & Low), $18.95, ISBN: 9781620143698

Ages 6-10

Not all heroes wear capes. Ignacio Anaya was born in Northern Mexico in 1895, and raised by a foster mother who made him delicious quesadillas. He grew up and became well-respected in the restaurant industry, handling everything from waiting tables to greeting guests and making sure everyone was well taken care of and happy. When a famous foodie asked him for “something different” one night in 1940, Ignacio – called “Nacho” for short – searched the kitchen until he noticed a bowl of fried corn tortillas. Thinking of his foster mother’s delicious quesadillas, he put his own spin on them, by melting cheddar cheese on them, topping each with a piece of pickled jalapeño pepper, and serving them up as “Nacho’s Special”. And, my friends, a legend was born.

Nacho’s Nachos tells Ignacio’s story, from the beginnings at his foster mother’s table through to his fame as the creator of a dish that appealed to everyone, everywhere, including actors and presidents; even allowing him to open a restaurant of his own. Ignacio’s original recipe is included in the back matter, along with an afterword on his life. There are sources and an author’s note addressing the somewhat tall tales that have arisen about Nacho’s life. Sandra Nickel creates a wonderfully inspirational biography, and Oliver Dominguez’s mixed media artwork is realistic and has gorgeous earth colors alongside colorful nightlife scenes. A fantastic addition to picture book biographies.

Warm up some cheddar cheese, have some nachos, and celebrate the life of Nacho Anaya today! Check out the National Nachos Day website for recipes and the history of the celebration.

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: Feast of Peas by Kashmira Sheth

I love a good folk tale, and Kashmira Sheth has certainly given me one with her newest book, Feast of Peas!

Feast of Peas, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler,
(March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-135-5
Ages 5-8

Set in India, Feast of Peas is about Jiva, a farmer who works in his garden “until the sun turned as red as a bride’s sari”, tending to his crops; he’s most excited, though, for his peas. He can’t wait for them to grow, so he can gobble them up. He loves peas! But so does Jiva’s friend, Ruvji, who stops by to see how Jiva’s crops are faring. As Jiva sings his Feast of Peas song, Ruvji stands close by, imagining his own yummy feast of peas… and when Jiva discovers that his peas are going missing, Ruvji is right there, suggesting culprits from rabbits to ghosts. Jiva’s precautions don’t protect his poor peas, so Jiva must take matters into his own hands… and wait until he discovers who the thief is!

 

Feast of Peas is so much fun! Kashmira Sheth’s storytelling style is perfect for a storytime setting. She includes easily recognizable folktale elements, like everyday situations, a puzzling problem, and a solution that neatly concludes the story. Her writing style draws readers into the story, and there’s fun repetition in the interplay between Jiva and Ruvji and their daily routines: Jiva’s work in the garden; Ruvji’s daily visits; Jiva’s song, “Plump peas, sweet peas, / Lined-up-in-the-shell peas. / Peas to munch, peas to crunch, / I want a feast of peas for lunch”, and Ruvji’s response, “Peas are delicious. I would enjoy a feast of peas”. A ghost story is played for laughs, and friendship and sharing win the day at the end of the story. Jeffrey Ebbeler’s artwork brings Kashmira Sheth’s story to life with acrylic illustrations giving readers earth tones, characters with expressive faces and body language, and delicious plates of Indian food! Peapods and peas decorate the endpapers, stoking readers’ appetites.

Absolute fun. Add Feast of Peas to your folk and fairytale sections, and ask your kids what they think the morale of the story is. Publisher Peachtree has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide that includes talking points about art, social studies, math, music, movement, and more.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

This Grandparents Day, let your kids read the stories to their grands

Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family, by Elizabeth Zunon,
(May 2019, Bloomsbury USA), $17.99, ISBN:  978-1-68119-640-4
Ages 5-9

A girl and her father bake a cake and reminisce about “Grandpa Cacao” – her father’s father – and his life working on a cacao farm on the African Ivory Coast. Lush images come to life through Elizabeth Zunon’s oil paint, collage and screenprint artwork; there’s gorgeous texture and movement across the landscape, and Grandpa Cacao appears as a pale image, illustrating his existence as a “mythical figure” in the girl’s imagination. Inspired by the author’s own “Grandpa Cacao”, this is a heartwarming link across generations and celebrating the joy of creating together and uniting families. Back matter includes author’s notes and maps on the realities of the cacao trade, the sobering perseverance of child labor, and fair trade. There are notes on the science and history of chocolate, and a cake recipe to try with the kids.

Grandparents Day Idea: Talk to kids about their grandparents’ stories. Where are their grandparents from? Do they have memories of growing up to share? Does the family have any special recipes that have been handed down through generations?

 

Looking for Yesterday, by Alison Jay, (Aug. 2019, Candlewick Press),
$16.99, ISBN: 9781536204216
Ages 4-7

A young boy tries to use science to figure out how to travel back in time, so he can relive the great day he had the day before. When he asks his grandfather for advice, he learns that memories are great, but it’s exciting to look forward to the possibilities of adventure in the here and now. Alison Jay gives her character a wonderfully childlike reasoning process – yesterday was so great, let’s try to get back there and live it again! – and has him go through the motions of working on the science to make it happen; her crackled oil artwork giving a vintage-looking life to the story. As the boy calculates going faster than light speed, we see his mind at work: he’s flying around the world, wearing a cape; using a time machine that looks like a giant unicycle; configuring a garbage can into a rocket. The boy’s grandfather walks him through a photo album as he recounts the past, drawing the boy into his adventures as the two fly on a scrapbook to see mountain tops, whales, and hot air balloons. The grandfather-grandson relationship is warm and loving, communicated with warm colors and body language. A great book to encourage kids to seize the day.

Grandparents Day Idea: Get out the photo albums and show kids your adventures! Show them your childhoods, talk to them about playing with your friends; going to school; exciting and ordinary things you did as a child. See how things are different, and how things are the same.

 

My Grandma and Me, by Mina Javaherbin, (Aug. 2019, Candlewick Press),
$16.99, ISBN: 9780763694944
Ages 4-8

This autobiographical story of a the author as a young girl and her grandmother, living in pre-revolutionary Iran, brought me to tears with it beautiful storytelling. The opening line – “In this big universe full of many moons, I have traveled and seen many wonders, but I have never loved anything or anyone the way I love my grandma” – poetically brings to life that everlasting love between grandparents and their grandchildren. Mira Javaherbin invites us to glimpse into her life as we see her lay across her grandmother during morning prayer; send down baskets to buy bread from the boy on his bicycle, bread piled high in a basket; waiting for her grandmother to break fast during Ramadan, so she can eat with her; hiding under a table strewn with her grandmother’s chadors, as she “helps” her make news ones. Lindsey Yankey’s mixed media illustrations create a cozy, welcoming space for us to spend time reading Mina’s story. Mina’s best friend and her grandmother are Christian; Mina and her grandmother are Muslim. The two girls play together while their grandmothers craft and enjoy each other’s company; each goes to their own house of worship and prays for the other. It’s a quietly strong celebration of two cultures, two faiths, living and playing together. With starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, this loving look at the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter is a perfect gift book and storytime book.

Grandparents Day Idea: Do you have memories of your grandparents that you’d like to share with your kids? Talk to your kids about spending time with your grandparents as a child, or as an adult, if you have stories to tell. Ask them what they like to do when they’re with grandparents. Do they like to play board games together? Do they read together?
Around the Table that Grandad Built, by Melanie Hauser Hill/Illustrated by Jaime Kim, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick),
$16.99, ISBN: 9780763697846
Ages 3-7
A sweet take on the classic cumulative story, The House that Jack Built, this heartwarming story assembles a multicultural family for a celebration centering around a table that Grandad built. Each part of the celebration is warm, inclusive, and participatory: cousins gather sunflowers; Mom’s sewn napkins that go with the dishes; glasses come from Mom and Dad’s wedding, and flatware comes from Dad’s grandma, all coming together to create a global table where the family enjoys squash, tamales, samosas, and other tasty fare, all prepared by members of the family. It’s a celebration of family steeped in tradition, linked across generations. The acrylic, crayon, and digital artwork adds to the handmade feel of the story and is rendered with bright primary colors, making this an upbeat story that will work for any family gathering. (Definitely keep this one on hand for Thanksgiving.)
Grandparents Day idea: Prepare a favorite dish with your grandkids, or create something with them. If you have little ones, try a no-sew project, or consider a craft that brings your generations together – handprints are always a good choice, and you can easily take some inspiration from the choices out there, while making it your own.
Grandpa’s Top Threes, by Wendy Meddour/Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick),
$16.99, ISBN: 9781536211252
Ages 3-6
Henry loves to talk to his Grandpa, but Grandpa hasn’t been talking much these days; preferring instead to silently work on his garden. When Henry nudges Grandpa by indulging in his favorite game – Top Threes – Grandpa finally starts talking, giving thoughtful answers that ultimately rebuild the bridge between them. And then we find out what’s really going on: Grandpa is mourning Granny. In a moment that’s at once touching and heartbreaking, Henry asks Grandpa who his three favorite Grannies are, citing his favorites as his two grandmothers, plus the granny from Red Riding Hood. Grandpa recounts his favorite three memories of Granny as his three favorites, including the Granny that first held Baby Henry. The simple, moving prose is eloquent and full of feeling; full of aching and loss, and yet, instilled with deep affection and love for a grandchild and for a spouse. A beautiful, tender story that you may need a tissue or two for, but one not to be missed. Daniel Egnéus’s watercolor illustrations are digitally assembled, giving a mixed media, textured feel to the layers of the story with each turn of the page. Make this one available to kids who have lost a grandparent, and encourage them to talk about their Top Threes.
Grandparents Day idea: Talk about your Top Three moments; Top Three grandmas and grandpas, or Top Three anything.
Our Favorite Day, by JoowonOh, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick Press),
$16.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0357-8
Ages 3-6
Grandpa has a routine he keeps to: a morning cup of tea, some light housework, and a bus ride into town, where he has lunch at his favorite dumpling shop, but Thursday is the best day of the week for Grandpa and his young granddaughter. It’s their day, and Grandpa is making sure it’s a good one! He chooses some crafting materials at a craft shop on his trip to town, gets two orders of dumplings to go, picks some flowers, and is ready to greet his granddaughter with a hug when she bounds out of the car! Together, the two enjoy their lunch, make a kite, and head out to fly it. With a narrative consisting of both omniscient narration and word-balloons, this adorably illustrated story is a wonderful way to celebrate grandparents and grandkids spending time together, and illustrates how important each is to the other. Grandpa has his own routine, but he lives for those Thursdays; he’s ready and waiting for his best buddy to arrive, and she can’t wait to get there. The affection and time they spend together is heartwarming and shows the mutual benefits of a multigenerational relationship. Joonwon On’s watercolor, gouache, and cut paper artwork creates texture and a scrapbook-like environment to envelop the reader. An absolutely adorable, touching story of grandparents and their grandkids.
Grandparents Day Idea: Craft together! Make a fun project together: it can be a kite, like the story shows, but it can be as easy as coloring together. I used to save a bag of fabric scraps from old clothes; when my Nana came to visit, I’d dump the bag on the table, and we’d make clothes for my dolls together. The craft doesn’t matter; the time you spend together does.