I love food. Always have, always will. The most memorable moments from my childhood involve food. Making mud pies at the beach, playing house with plastic food, making “salsa” and peppery carrot soup… just to name a few.
It’s no coincidence my favourite books as a kid have some foodie element to them. Let’s discuss.
Teddy Rabbit by Kathy Stinson
A book about Tony, a little boy from Toronto who’s going to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Centre Island. But Tony’s worried – he doesn’t have a real teddy – his favourite toy is a plush Rabbit. It’s okay though, the kids’ “Teddies” are all kinds of animals, and Tony and Rabbit are welcome to join the picnic.
Yum Yum: Tony’s mom packs carrots in a paper bag for the picnic. The kids and Teddy animals eat sandwiches, cookies, berries with honey, tinned tuna and carrots. Stéphane Poulin’s artwork is drool-worthy.
Fish Fry by Susan Saunders
Edith goes to a fish fry picnic on a Texas forest riverbank with her family. There, she and gangly Eugene Greene meet an unwelcome reptilian visitor.
Yum Yum: Cookies, cakes, pies, and huge jars of pickles. Butter beans, potato salad, hush puppies, deviled eggs, fried catfish and watermelon cooling in the river. S.D. Schindler’s detailed illustrations make me hungry.
Too Many Babas by Carolyn Croll
A group of Russian grandmothers all want a hand in Baba Edis’ soup. In this story, too many cooks is not a good thing!
Yum Yum: Their first pot of soup is too garlicky, peppery and salty. When the Babas delegate and organize tasks, their cabbage, potato, bean and carrot soup is delish! My 1979 edition’s sepia illustrations lack pizazz, but the updated version has colourful folk art.
Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak
This rhyming book of months is a delight! I enjoyed my birth month most of all:
“In May I truly think it best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest. Mix it once, mix it twice, mix that chicken soup with rice.”
My copy is well-loved, and taped up.
Yum Yum: Chicken soup with rice, all the time! Sendak’s illustrations set the tone for the month, but always incorporate the book’s namesake.
A Difficult Day by Eugenie Fernandes
Melinda has crumbs in her bed, she can’t sleep well, a nasty boy punches her in gym class, and she’s rude to her Mom. On the whole, it’s a rough day.
Yum Yum: At bathtime Melinda feels like a noodle in a beautifully illustrated bowl of chicken soup. Later, she and her sympathetic Mom share chocolate chip cookies under the bed.
And let’s not forget my favourite of the bunch…
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
Frances is a fussy yet lovable badger. She soon grows tired of her favourite food and yearns to spice things up! This book reminds me of my childhood bread and jam infatuation – every day for breakfast – bread cut in half, both cut sides facing me.
Yum Yum: Spaghetti and meatballs, veal cutlets and elaborate packed lunches complete with hardboiled eggs, a pickle and a cardboard salt shaker. Lillian Hoban’s simply-coloured illustrations don’t skimp on detail.
So many mouth-watering reads! What were your favourite books as a child?