A little girl helps her mom make Bee-bim Bop and cheers the process along because she is hungry.
- Fans of Rhythmic Reads/Emergent Readers/Asian Food Fans/Korean Character Fans: The rhythm and rhyme of this are such that you could clap or stomp along with the book. It helps emphasize just how hungry the little girl is for bibimbop (that's another way to transliterate the dish, and the one I'm more used to). There's a phrase repeated that little ones can catch on to and then start "reading" along at those points. There are detailed instructions for how to make bibimbop in the back of the book that separates the steps into things a child can do and what adults should do. The author's note in the back explains the dish and the meaning of the two words in Korean.
Black Belt Bunny by Jacky Davis, ill. by Jay Fleck
Black Belt Bunny delights in showing readers all the things he's good at. But when the narrator asks him to learn something new, Black Belt Bunny tries to sneak away.
- Readers Scared of New Foods (or Experiences)/Animal Lovers/Martial Arts Fans/Foodie Readers: I like that once the narrator finally convinces Black Belt Bunny to at least try making a salad, the bunny gets really into it. Then it is the narrator's turn to practice trying something new, because Black Belt Bunny has put arugula in the salad and the narrator has never had it and is sure he won't like it. But he has to practice what he preaches and try something new too. So the book approaches two new experiences and shows that something new isn't necessarily going to be horrible. And Black Belt Bunny's salad making with martial arts is very entertaining.
Buffalo Wings by Aaron Reynolds, ill. by Paulette Bogan
Rooster and the rest of the farmyard are getting ready to watch the big football game. Rooster has a hankering for buffalo wings and has all the ingredients...except buffalo. Since you can't watch a football game without buffalo wings, Rooster sets off on an epic journey to find some buffalo. But when he finally finds those hard-to-find beasts, something is missing and Rooster must re-check the recipe...and then re-evaluate his football plans.
- Ironic Humor Fans/American Football Fans/Munchies Lovers: A humorous look at sports fans and their munchies. If you like munchies, this may make you hungry. But don't worry. There are recipes on the end papers.
Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin
A little girl and her family go to have dim sum at a restaurant, introducing readers to some of the common dishes and unique traits of a dim sum restaurant.
- Asian Food Fans/Chinese or Taiwanese Character Fans/Curious Readers/Readers Wanting to Try Dim Sum: This introduces a yummy restaurant experience (which can potentially be overwhelming for first timers...this would be good to read before going for the first time). The back of the book includes an informative note on the history and development of dim sum restaurants, and common practices you should use when visiting such a restaurant.
Fairy Floss: the Sweet Story of Cotton Candy by Ann Ingalls, ill. by Migy Blanco
The story of the world's first electric cotton candy machine and its unveiling at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 told through the point of view of a fictional little girl visiting the fair with her aunt.
- Historical Fiction Fans/Cotton Candy (Fairy Floss) Fans/Fair Goers: A historical fiction picture book that educates about the development and process of making cotton candy. There's a page in the back with some further historical information. The illustrations are bright and colorful and should attract little readers. Read this before visiting a fair, or read it and grab some cotton candy, and maybe go watch Meet Me in St. Louis (or at least listen to the song).
Food Truck Fest by Alexandra Penfold, ill. by Mike Dutton
Readers go back and forth between watching a variety of food trucks and one family get ready for and go to a food truck festival.
- Rhyming Book Fans/Transportation Fans/Food Truck Fans: This is told in catchy rhyme, and all the pages are loaded with colorful things to look at. A great pick for little foodies and kids who love all forms of transportation. Also a good read for getting kids ready to go to a food truck event like is described here.
Harold’s Hungry Eyes by Kevin Waldron
When Harold's favorite chair goes missing, he goes out to rescue it and ends up lost. Besides being lost Harold has one more big problem, he is always super hungry. As he tries to find his way home the city starts turning into food items before his starving eyes.
- Imaginative Art Lovers/Dog Lovers/Humor Fans: This was done in a curious art style that combines ink illustrations with collage of food photographs and makes Harold's hungry journey home quite humorous for readers as normal things turn into food items of a similar shape.
Jack and the Baked Beanstalk by Colin Stimpson
Jack buys a can of magic baked beans instead of the coffee his mom sent him out to get for their struggling diner. He knows how the tale is supposed to go, so he scrambles up the beanstalk to claim the treasure. He forgot one little detail though, there's also a giant up there. This giant is uncommonly friendly though. He is thrilled to have a visitor to make lunch for and get a break from counting his money. He willingly lets Jack take the magic hen and the radio with him back down the beanstalk, but he's reluctant to come too because this giant's a bit afraid of heights. Jack is worried the giant may end up lonely, but an accident helps everything work out ok.
- Fractured Fairy Tale Fans/Baked Bean Lovers: A humorous rewrite of Jack and the Beanstalk with the friendliest giant around and lots of baked beans. Loved the twists on the normal tale in this one. The illustrations are cartoonish and very kid friendly.
Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough
Marigold the cat likes things just so. His life is well-organized and carefully arranged. Mondays are blocked off so he can indulge in some delicate baking all by himself. When some birds show up wanting to help, chaos ensues.
- Readers Who Need the Freedom to Fail/Readers Learning about Boundaries & Flexibility/Bakers/Animal Lovers/Humor Fans: How often have you read a picture book in which the characters try, and try again, and still fail? It always seems to magically work out. But that isn't how real life works. So I love that the birds try to bake, and fail miserably. And that Marigold decides to try to teach them, and that fails miserably too. Because kids need to be equipped to fail. Failure produces growth, and you learn important things about yourself through failure. I think it is important that Marigold gives the birds a chance, and a second chance, but then they all realize this isn't going to work out. Kids need to know it is ok to fail, need to not give up right away but know when to quit, and it's important for all of us to realize what we are and aren't gifted at. Have kids imagine how things work out after the story. Do the birds just need a different teacher or will they just leave the baking to others? Will they find a new hobby? What are they good at? Oh, and there are also good lessons about boundaries and flexibility in here too.
No Kimchi for Me by Aram Kim
Little Yoomi doesn't like kimchi but she wants to be able to eat it to prove she is a big girl to her brothers. She tries a variety of methods, but Grandma may have the best idea.
- Asian Food Fans/Cat Lovers/Korean Character Fans: Kids will likely either laugh or get grossed out by the ideas Yoomi has for how to get the kimchi swallowable. Readers can try out Grandma's solution with the recipe in the back of the book. Get kids interested in some exotic (or perhaps not so exotic depending on where you live) food dishes and introduce them to a little Korean flavor with this book.
The Popcorn Astronauts: and Other Biteable Rhymes by Deborah Ruddell, ill. by Joan Rankin
A delicious and witty collection of poetic odes to foods of all kinds.
- Poetry Fans/Humor Fans/Foodies: Whatever the day and whatever food hits your fancy, this poetry selection is sure to please.
A rhyming picture book biography of Chinese chef Joyce Chen who eventually opened several popular restaurants in the States and had her own cooking show.
- Asian Food Fans/Multicultural Food Fans/Women Entrepreneur Bio Fans/Chinese Heritage Bio Fans/Rhyming Read Fans: It is quite amazing how much the author was able to convey about Joyce through just short phrases in rhyme. It's an impressive feat of summarizing. The illustrations match the tone and subject quite well. There's a timeline in the back that provides a few more details about Joyce Chen.
How the Cookie Crumbled: the True (and Not-So-True) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie by Gilbert Ford
A picture book biography of Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, and the various rumors of how that came about.
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Lovers/Food History Fans/Curious Readers: I really like the way this book evaluates the three stories of how Wakefield invented the cookie and decides which one was most likely. It is done quite well.
A survey of the main food staples around the world. Primary focus is given to the top four staples: rice, wheat, corn (maize), and potatoes. Each staple gets a couple spreads on facts about that food, how it is grown and harvested, the varieties available, and various sample dishes made with it around the world. Then three to four recipes from around the world are provided with step-by-step photographed cooking/baking instructions. The end of the book includes informational pages and recipes for honorable mention food staples: dairy, chicken, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and plantains.
- Cooks/Food History & Fact Fans/Curious Readers: This is a fantastic resource, packed with information in an eye-catching format and featuring a great international selection of recipes.
The Deep Dish on Pizza by Stephen Krensky, ill. by Daniel Guidera
A history of pizza from its ancient food origins, to the addition of tomatoes, to the proliferation of pizza in Italy, to its popularity rise in the United States and around the world. A few pages of extended reading in the back on related geography and math topics too.
- Curious Readers/Reluctant Readers/Pizza Lovers/Food History Fans: This was a fascinating read. The illustrations are quite fun and eye-catching. My only quibble is that there's no bibliography in the book. Still a great nonfiction read for lower or middle grades that should suck in even reluctant readers.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Mochiko Florence, ill. by Elizabet Vukovic
Jasmine Toguchi is tired of being the little sister and only getting to do things after her big sister gets to experience them. For once, she'd like to do something Sophie has never done. As the extended family gathers to celebrate mochi-tsuki on New Year's, Jasmine is determined to get involved somehow. Sophie will get to help the women make mochi in the kitchen this year because she's ten now. Jasmine is only eight, but she's thinking up a way to convince the adults to let her do something besides babysit her little cousins.
- Contemporary Fiction Fans/Those Curious about Japanese Culture/Japanese Character Fans/Holiday Book Fans/Mochi Lovers: A fun lower grade contemporary read that features a spunky Japanese American girl who learns that change doesn’t come till you work up the guts to at least ask. And readers get to learn about Japanese New Year’s customs.
Naples! (Recipe for Adventure, #1) by Giada de Laurentiis, ill. by Francesca Gambatesa
Alfie and Emilia are tasting their Aunt Zia's zeppole when they suddenly find themselves in Naples, Italy, the city their parents were originally from. They get involved in a pizza contest and helping their new friend Marco and his family prepare while trying to avoid spies who would steal their recipe.
- Travel Lovers/Italian Food Lovers/Italian Character Fans/Fantasy Fans/Adventure Fans: Don't read this series while hungry! The plot line almost entirely revolves around the food of Italy while occasionally mentioning the sights of Naples. It's a fun way to get kids interested in exotic places and food, and a high paced adventure for kids who might get easily bored. I also liked the resolution of the food competition. It was good to see the kids help restore peace. There are two recipes in the back of the book and this is just the first book in a series where the kids travel all over the world and have adventures revolving around food.
Gladys Gatsby was living a happy foodie life. She was cooking while alone at home, waiting for her parents to get back from work, expanding her palate and her culinary skills. That is until the day her parents returned to find 11 year old Gladys accidentally setting the kitchen curtains on fire with a blow torch in the attempts to make creme brulee. Now she's banned from everything culinary from cooking to reading cookbooks, and only allowed to do things that "kids do." True, this does mean that she actually makes a friend in the next door neighbor boy Sandy. Gladys' punishment may have been more bearable if her parents didn't lack a single culinary bone in their bodies (or tastebuds). Their idea of a fine meal is takeout from the greasy restaurants in town, and their home cooking is monumentally bad. Gladys is in the depths of foodie despair until her teacher has them all write essays about what they want to be when they grow up for a newspaper essay contest. Inspired by her teacher's example, Gladys writes hers as a form letter...and when it gets to the newspaper it ends up in the Dining section's mail instead of the essay contest. Thanks to some severely burnt tastebuds of the chief restaurant reviewer, someone actually notices Gladys' letter and wants to hire her as a freelance food critic for the newspaper. With Sandy's help, Gladys cooks up ways to make her dream job work, even though she's only 11 and she's pretty sure writing for the newspaper doesn't fall under her parents' list of things kids normally do. It turns out to be pretty tricky for an 11-yr-old to get to a restaurant to sample the food, and it takes all of Gladys' food know-how and creativity to get there in time for the newspaper deadline.
- Contemporary Fiction Fans/Foodie Readers: Though this is technically contemporary fiction it reads more like a tall tale. Gladys’ parents are epically bad in the cooking department, and the way that Gladys makes her dreams come true sometimes stretches reasonable belief. That doesn’t stop kids from loving this series about a serious foodie. There are recipes in the back of the book for when the story just makes you too hungry to continue.
Krista Kim-Bap by Angela Ahn
Krista Kim’s life is about to be shaken up by a family heritage project, popular girl Madison’s birthday party, and the Celebration of Dance her teacher has signed the class up to participate in. For the heritage project her best friend Jason suggests she focus on Korean food because he loves eating the stuff at her house. The trouble is her mom, though of Korean descent, has lived in Canada all her life and doesn’t really know how to cook Korean so Krista’d have to ask her grandmother for help. Her grandmother is a very strict, traditional Korean grandma, and seems to love Krista’s older, more fashionable sister Tori and barely tolerates her. Madison’s birthday party unexpectedly finds Krista questioning her fashion taste and hanging out with the popular girls a little more, which means hanging out with Jason less. And then the Celebration of Dance is pretty much a nightmare because dance is not something that comes naturally to Krista. Through it all, Krista will learn more about herself, her family, and what makes a true friend.
- Korean Character Fans/Asian Food Lovers/Contemporary Fiction Fans: To read this right, make or go get some kimbap to munch on between chapters. Or if you’ve never had Korean go to a Korean restaurant, that’s a must while reading this so you can taste what you’re reading about. Besides the yummy Korean food being talked about, this is a middle grade book about a tween girl figuring out who she is in a world that tells her all sorts of things she should be. I loved Krista’s mom’s talk to her girls about accepting themselves, and not trying to look like fake magazine pictures. Krista learns to have better balance in her life eventually. She learns a lot of great lessons about friends, understanding family, and self-acceptance. And I felt like it was realistically handled too, because Krista doesn’t go back to being 100% the same as she was before. She keeps a few of the changes she’s made, but she also realizes some of them just aren’t her or they weren’t good decisions. It’s a good model for kids who are going to face changes whether they want to or not. Change isn’t all bad.
An introduction to Korean cooking and culture through a graphic novel format.
- Cooks/Asian Food Lovers/Graphic Novel Fans: This is 80% cookbook in a very attractive and creative format, and 20% info on Korean culture/food with actual graphic novel/comic strip pages. I found it fascinating to find out what all went into making the Korean dishes I love. I also really appreciate that Ha offers alternate ingredients for harder to find Korean ingredients.
Great Moments in Chocolate History by Howard Yana-Shapiro
A survey of some of the highlights in chocolate's history, especially in new food developments but also including some things like milestones in sustainable development planning. Includes 20 chocolate recipes from around the world with some history of each dish.
- Chocolate Lovers/Food History Fans/Curious Readers/Bakers: A fascinating, delicious, and attractively designed book. It's very readable. I devoured it in one sitting and learned more than one thing. I especially appreciated that hallmarks of sustainable development and fair trade were also highlighted. This is written by a scientist who works for Mars but I felt like he did a great job in covering all the major chocolate companies (Hershey, Ferrero, Godiva, Ghiradelli, Nestle, etc.), and even some minor ones (Scharffen Berger anyone?). It didn't feel like just a Mars history at all. There are 20 recipes from all over the world at the end of the book involving chocolate.
Sandwiches!: More Than You've Ever Wanted to Know about Making And Eating America’s Favorite Food by Alison Deering, ill. by Bob Lentz
Sandwiches! is part infographic guide to the history and fun facts of food you happen to find between two slices of bread and part cookbook. The book is divided into five sections, from easiest to assemble at level one to sandwiches that require some prep work in level five. Kitchen safety instructions are provided as you go along with ideas of ingredients to swap out in various sandwiches or dares to try some more out there ingredients on a select few sandwiches for the brave.
- Sandwich Lovers/Easy Recipe Fans/Foodie Readers/Food History Fans/Graphic Novel Fans: Whether you’re hungry for knowledge or hungry for a meal, this is a fantastic book to satisfy those cravings. There’s a vast array of sandwiches presented, from ol’ classics to the more exotic and obscure, and cover just about all the eating times from meal to snack to tea time to dessert. And if you aren’t careful you may learn a thing or two about the food you eat along the way. I really loved the infographics that introduce each sandwich and how they provide interesting facts about brand name versions of the sandwich to likely origins to special days when the sandwich is celebrated or world records set. A fascinating and tasty book.
Nagi is a girl who lives in the forest by herself (well, she lives with her dad but he's out satisfying his wanderlust). One day while weeding and harvesting from her garden, she meets a huge spider-like creature. At first she's scared, but the beast doesn't seem to be very beastly and enjoys Nagi's cooking. She names it Asa and they quickly become friends over food, which Nagi loves to cook. (Recipes are included.)
- Foodie Readers/Manga Fans/Light Dystopia Fans/Asian Food Lovers: This is a manga, which means it reads back to front, and right to left. It is a challenge to find clean manga, but this is completely fine. So far all potentially perilous situations have been resolved happily with food. This is another one you do not want to read while hungry. Nagi is constantly making food, but thankfully recipes are included so you can make food too.