Children's Books for Foodies
I'm a lover of books and food, so my imagination likes nothing better than to indulge in a literary feast for the senses. I remember mentally licking my lips in preschool when the teacher read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Just seeing the two-page spread with the sausage, cheese, pickle, lollipop, cherry pie, and all the other yummy things he ate on Saturday still makes me hungry! But what really sparked my appetite for food in literature was my first taste of Bread and Jam for Frances. It went like this (spoiler alert--this is the ending):
The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, "What do you have today?"
"Well," said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, "let me see." She arranged her lunch on the doily.
"I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup," she said.
"And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread.
I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives,
and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery.
And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.
And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles
and a spoon to eat it with."
"That's a good lunch," said Albert. "I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice."
"So do I," said Frances, and she made the lobster-salad sandwich, the celery, the carrot sticks, and the olives come out even.
Isn't that one of the most sumptuous passages you've ever read? It was also responsible for an obsession with doilies that lasted my entire childhood, and was mostly only indulged on Valentine's Day when they were part of the craft materials. The mention of black olives was crucial, since they held a special place not only atop my fingertips, but above every other food. Rediscovering this tasty treasure of a book as an adult and getting to savor it with my children has been a guilt-free pleasure.
A contemporary favorite is Yoko (from author Rosemary Wells of Max and Ruby fame) which has this delicious description:
Yoko opened the willow-covered cooler. Inside was her favorite sushi. Tucked in the rice rolls were the crispiest cucumber, the pinkest shrimp, the greenest seaweed, and the tastiest tuna.
These are our favorites for the youngest of palates, in order from board books to early readers. Not all have mouthwatering writing, but food is the starring character:
Two Eggs, Please (Sarah Weeks & Betsy Lewin)
Jamberry (Bruce Degen)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
Pete's a Pizza (William Steig)
School Lunch (Johnny Zucker & Rowan Clifford)
It Looked Like Spilt Milk (Charles Shaw)
Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss)
The Popcorn Shop (Alice Low)
The Best Hawaiian Style Mother Goose Ever (Kevin Sullivan)
Chicken Soup With Rice (Maurice Sendak)
I will Not Ever Eat A Tomato (Charlie & Lola) (Lauren Child)
Socks for Supper (Jack Kent)
An Island in the Soup (Mireille Levert)
Yoko (Rosemary Wells)
Pizza for the Queen (Nancy Castaldo & Melisande Potter)
Bread and Jam for Frances (Russell & Lillian Hoban)
Best Friends for Frances (Russell & Lillian Hoban)
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (Judi & Ron Barrett)
I'm excited for the fall when we'll read the Little House on the Prairie books--the meal descriptions were my main reason for reading that series.
What are your and your children's favorites from early childhood? Let's have a potluck in the comments! My children prefer reading good food to actually eating it, but I'm hopeful the former may influence the latter, so new recommendations are always welcome :)
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