Feast of Peas (Kashmira Sheth)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Feast of Peas, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, a fable of mystery, deception, and vegetables.

Once upon a time in India, there was a humble man named Jiva, who worked in his garden all day to grow fresh vegetables. And among his okra and eggplants and beans, it was his pea plants he loved the best. He lovingly fusses over the little plants as they sprout, then blossom, then become tiny peapods, all the while singing a song of his excitement for his pea harvest. Yet when the day comes to harvest his peas, they are missing from the vine! Jiva’s friend Ruvji suggests that rabbits have stolen the peas, so Jiva builds a fence to protect his next crop… which also goes missing! Who is taking his beloved peas?! Jiva has a sneaking suspicion, and he’ll have to lay a clever trap to catch them in the act…

Fun! The mystery itself is a clever one, especially in the way the third act reveal plays out. Spoiler alert: Ruvji is stealing the peas and lying to his friend, and when caught, Jiva asks him to cook a feast of peas as penance. The food prepared looks absolutely scrumptious, and may convince little ones who avoid their peas to look at them in a new light. My only quibble is how quickly Ruvji is forgiven for his transgressions, which feel a lot crueler considering that he knows how much my friend Jiva loves his plants. Otherwise, lovely illustrations bring characters and backdrops to life, and are wonderfully infused with Indian culture and scenery. The length is best for ages 5 and up, though JJ was delighted with the repeated “feast of peas” song. It’s a unique book with a lot of magic going for it, and we enjoyed it! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

The Adventures Of Princess Pudding Pie (Saureen Naik Desai)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Adventures Of Princess Pudding Pie, written by Saureen Naik Desai and illustrated by Marco Mazzarello, a culinary journey around the world.

The joyful Princess Pudding Pie (who, with the exception of an actual pie for a head and face, is drawn as an otherwise normal girl) welcomes the reader, inviting them to join her for a trip around the world. There’s plenty to see, plenty to experience, and plenty to eat! In fact, the different regional desserts are one of Pudding Pie’s favorite things about traveling; each country has its own unique and delicious treat to try, from apple pie to gulab jamuns to brigadeiros.

Mostly delicious fun. This is a great concept for a book, and almost entirely well-executed. The rhyming text is brisk, bouncy, yet informative, the desserts featured are wholly unique to their countries, and Pudding Pie is even sure to remind young kiddos that desserts are meant for AFTER a full, healthy meal. The artwork, however, is where things falter a bit. Other than the odd choice of Pudding Pie’s design – the pie for a head is slightly off-putting throughout – the artwork has great promise: famous landmarks, clever details, and the incorporation of the colors/patterns of each country’s flag in Pie’s outfit. However, some of the outfits, which are modeled after traditional garb or regalia of the featured country, veer into the murky waters of cultural appropriation. In Kenya, Pie wears traditional Maasai regalia; in India, a sari and bindi; in Japan, kanzashi and a kimono. While the intent was likely to showcase these traditional attires, they should have been worn by a native character, not the tourist Pie. It’s an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise stellar indie. Otherwise, the length was fine and JJ enjoyed learning about the different foods. A few visual stumbling blocks, but otherwise worth a look, especially for young foodies. 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!

Avocado Mustache (Kira Barrett)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Avocado Mustache by Kira Barrett, an adorable ode to messy eaters.

When babies are eating, things are bound to get messy! And in the pursuit of nomming on various mushy foods, very little ones will often find themselves sporting some new facial adornments. Be it an avocado mustache, a kale handlebar, or some mac n’ cheese muttonchops, happy babies are experts at turning their meals into statement styles all their own.

Delightful. This colorful board book takes the oh-so-familiar face of a messy eater and makes it into something fun and silly that readers of any age can giggle at. A diverse cast of babies – both boys and girls in a rainbow of skintones – sport the ridiculous and often gravity-defying baby-food facial hairstyles, ranging from Dalis to beardstaches to an impressive carrot-fig freestyle. The text is simple: a short intro and outro, then two to three words describing the puréed food in cutesy terms and the type of hairstyle it’s emulating within the main body. It’s a short, sweet, and easy read that will entertain the smallest bookworms, but will also likely get some laughs out of older siblings as well, making this a great read for multiple ages. JJ loved the joyful baby faces, and simply got a kick out of the catchy title. This one’s a winner, and we definitely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast: Mission Defrostable (Josh Funk)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast: Mission Defrostable, written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, the delightful third entry to the duo’s series.

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are worried about their fridge kingdom: a devastating chill has descended and is threatening their subjects. As the two friends try to work out what to do, they are approached by the mysterious Agent Asparagus, who whisks them away to help solve the deathly freeze. But just as they start out on the trail, Agent Asparagus is vegetable-napped! The friends will have to use their wits, their courage, and their kindness to get to the bottom of this shivery mystery…

Wonderful. This is actually the First Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast book we’ve read, but it was very easy to jump right into the story without any knowledge of the previous two installments (which we will definitely be picking up soon). The lighthearted and surprisingly touching spycraft storyline is simple enough for little ones to grasp, yet full of thrilling twists and turns that surprised even me, and the rhyming text has an easy yet energetic flow that makes it a joy to read aloud. The illustrations are DARLING – dynamic and exciting scenes, emotive and endearing characters, and some truly adorable details. And as a bonus, there wasn’t an over-abundance of food-related puns; I get that kids like them, but let’s face it, we’ve heard them all and they can get old. The length was great and JJ loved it – this one is a winner. Baby Bookworm approved!

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