The Foodie Flamingo (Vanessa Howl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Foodie Flamingo, written by Vanessa Howl and illustrated by Pablo Pino, a delightful and insightful tale of culinary curiosity.

Frankie the flamingo meets with her friends (Frederick, Felicia, and Steve) every Friday at their favorite flamingo restaurant. And every Friday, each friend orders the same shrimp-based dish. Like her fellow flamingos, Frankie loves the taste of shrimp, and the vibrant pink color her feathers get from eating it. However, after discovering the term “foodie”, Frankie begins to wonder if there are other foods that she might like as much – or even better – than shrimp. When her friends are skeptical and their restaurant flatly refuses to serve anything other than, Frankie decides to explore her culinary options at home. She teaches herself to cook different ingredients in unique ways, and turns herself a rainbow of different colors in the process. She finds she’s happy being a foodie flamingo – but will her friends feel the same?

Loved this! The Baby Bookworm family are big food-lovers, and we absolutely agreed with Frankie’s revelation: that food is not only to be consumed, but to be explored and enjoyed. The clever twist of this being outwardly displayed by Frankie’s (and later, other flamingos) changing colors also gives a great visual as to how food diversity – like any diversity – makes life all the more colorful and vibrant. This also serves well to encourage readers who are picky eaters: the story is careful to note that Frankie does not enjoy ALL of her culinary experiences, but she keeps trying new things nonetheless. There’s also a short yet sweet “How To Be A Foodie” page, which gives readers tips on experimenting with and savoring their meals. The jovial cartoon art is cheerful, colorful, gives each character style, and makes each dish look scrumptious. The length is perfect for storytime, and JJ loved it! A wonderful little title to encourage the foodie in all of us, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Julia, Child (Kyo Maclear)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Julia, Child, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad, an ode to cooking and childhood.

From the first time young Julia tastes sole meunière, she is enchanted by cooking and cuisine. She and her friend Simca spend days together, at the market shopping for ingredients, learning the craft of creating fine food, testing new recipes together in the kitchen. Their pursuits bring them such joy that when they notice the dreary and uninspired adults around them, they wonder if their culinary creations can help. Gathering a diverse group of busy, serious people for a meal, Julia and Simca serve them a plentiful gourmet table that contains all the delights and joys of childhood. Their guests are exuberant at first, yet quickly turn selfish, hoarding the food from the others when they fear it will run out. Frustrated and disappointed, Julia and Simca return to their comfort zone, the kitchen, to figure out how to tweak their recipe and achieve just the right flavor of happiness.

Deliciously inventive. Obviously, this reimagining of the friendship between Julia Child and Simone Beck isn’t historical; the women met and discovered a shared love of French cuisine in adulthood. But this is no matter: Julia and Simca are sweet nods to their real-life adult counterparts in a story that is not about them, but about finding a passion and using it to create, and to inspire others. And while it felt like parts of the metaphor flew over my head – particularly the sequence in which the adults aggressively reserve the food – the overarching message is one of appreciating the little things, especially things like a meal made with love, or the bond between two best friends. Morstad’s illustrations are as lovely as ever, using soft colors and fine details to create unique, engaging characters and food that looks good enough to eat. The length is perfect, and JJ enjoyed this one a lot. A scrumptious read, especially for fans of the real life chef, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

How To Make A Mom (Claressa Swensen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To Make A Mom, written by Claressa Swensen and illustrated by Alena Paklina, a sugary sweet tribute to what makes moms so special.

Written in the form of a recipe, the text takes the reader step-by-step through the making of a very special mom, using ingredients like sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla to represent mom’s sweetness, fun, and patience. And if you already have an extra-special mom, don’t worry: the actual recipe also makes a yummy batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Deliciously cute. While some of the ingredient-personality parallels are a bit of a stretch – such as flour representing good organizational skills or butter for “buttery slick driving skills” – as well as the fact that some of the personality traits seem a trifle condescending (cleaning, baking, and being a “personal nurse” are included, but not things like intelligence, creativity, or courage), the earnest intention in this one carries it through to an affectionate ending. This is bolstered by the book’s warm and cozy art style, featuring illustrations of a little boy making the cookies as he watches his mom do all the things he’s showing appreciation for (though mom does assist with steps involving the oven, a wise choice and a safe example to set for young readers). The length of this one is great for a short storytime, and there’s a gentle earnestness that helps one look past its minor flaws. And we always love a book with a bonus recipe! JJ enjoyed this one, and so did I. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

How To Feed Your Parents (Ryan Miller)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To Feed Your Parents, written by Ryan Miller and illustrated by Hatem Aly, a fun flip-flopped tale of a family learning to try new foods.

Matilda Macaroni absolutely loves to try new foods whenever she can, but it’s usually only ever at friends’ or family’s homes. That’s because her parents only eat the things they know they like: chicken nuggets, pizza, hamburgers, grilled cheese, mac & cheese, and sugar cereal. Because of their reluctance to expand their palates, Matilda figures that if she wants to try new foods at home, she will need to cook it herself. Always safely under the supervision of her grandma or babysitter, Matilda devours all the information about cooking and recipes she can, soon mastering some tricky dishes all on her own. Wanting to share her gifts with her picky parents, Matilda plans them a meal, even making one of their go-to favorites with a little Matilda flair. But still, her parents are apprehensive – will they find the courage to try something new?

Very, very cute. Sometimes these role-reversal storylines can get a bit muddled, but this one absolutely works for a lesson in culinary curiosity. The parents’ juvenile attitudes towards food was a little annoying at times, but it’s all for comedic effect, and there’s a nice moment that shows that their love for Matilda and how proud they are of her efforts are why they decide to try something new. It’s a great way of putting younger picky eaters into their parents’ shoes, and quite clever. The illustrations are adorable, displaying both cartoonish wackiness and the genuine warmth of a well-used kitchen. The length is great, JJ loved all the foods, and there’s even a quiche recipe to try in the back. A feast of fun, 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.)

Sesame Street: Let’s Cook! (Susan McQuillan, RD & Sesame Workshop)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sesame Street: Let’s Cook! by Susan McQuillan, RD and the Sesame Workshop, a delightful cookbook for Sesame Street fans of all ages to share.

Join Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and all the rest of the Sesame Street gang as they introduce fifty recipes that adults and children can prepare together. Featuring fun dishes like Grover’s Monstrously Delicious Chicken Nuggets, Abby Cadabby’s Magical Squish-Squash, Rosita’s Veggie-Cheese Quesadillas, and Bert and Ernie’s Best Buddies Banana Pancakes, grown-ups and little ones can prepare each meal together using guided instructions that feature icons denoting which steps can be done by little chefs (with adult supervision). Along the way, kids can learn fun facts about food, cooking, and their favorite Sesame Street characters.

There are some lovely cookbooks for kids out there, but this is absolutely one of my favorites. The entire book is geared toward nutritional meals and spending quality time in the kitchen, and there are so many awesome details that tie into this. In addition to having at least two steps per recipe that little ones can participate in, there are clever icons that inform them of the health benefits of each recipe, ones that indicate which meals are travel-ready, and substitution suggestions that can help picky eaters make the meal their own. There’s also a wealth of information for parents and guardians on how to get kids excited about food and how to stay safe in the kitchen. This is a really great cookbook to share with baby bookworms to begin with, and the fact that it features everyone’s favorite Sesame characters is an added bonus. A treasure trove for young chefs, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!