Hello, friends! Our book today is Alice Waters Cooks Up a Food Revolution, written by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Jessie Hartland, a look at one of the innovators behind the farm-to-table movement.
As a child, Alice’s family had a garden in the warm months that provided them with fresh produce – fruits and veggies that tasted so good that Alice never forgot them. Spending a college semester in France ignited her passion for the French methods of food preparation, which involved using all-fresh ingredients. After college, Alice decided to open a restaurant in Berkeley, CA that served food in a revolutionary way: a different fixed menu every night that only used “the freshest local ingredients.” This concept ended up being a hit for Alice and her restaurant, Chez Panisse, and helped start a food movement that continues to this day.
A unique story that nicely explores current themes. As younger readers are being more educated on subjects like sustainability and responsible agriculture, books like this do a great job of explaining why these practices are so important in child-friendly terms. For instance, while other reasons for supporting small farms and fresh produce are given, the main one that this title drives home is a simple concept for kids to grasp: it tastes better. Stanley does well at integrating concepts with Waters’s life story, though some pages can drag a bit or veer off-topic (though JJ absolutely cackled at a superfluous account of Waters’s friend, director Werner Herzog, having to literally eat his own shoe at the restaurant after losing a bet). Hartland’s folksy gouache illustrations are perfect for the book’s theme and do an admirable job of making every meal and ingredient look delectable (with the exception of the aforementioned shoe). An afterward including an account of “Alice’s Edible Schoolyard” is not to be missed, and it’s a shame it is only covered visually in the main body of the book. Length was fine for an elementary storytime, and we enjoyed this one. Definitely worth a look, and Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)