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.)

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast: Short & Sweet (Josh Funk)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast: Short & Sweet, written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, fourth in the duo’s series of culinary adventures.

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are preparing for a tea party when they notice something awry: they appear to be gasp molding! Their former enemy – now friend – Baron von Waffle suggests a radical de-aging treatment by Professor Biscotti to solve their woes. The trio travel to her laboratory and agree to undergo the treatment, but once again, disaster strikes! The de-aging ray works TOO well – turning Pancake and French Toast into children! What will our pair do?

Foodie fun. Once again utilizing food-centric wordplay and puns, Funk and Kearney create a silly and entertaining adventure with subtle lessons on problem-solving, apologies, and friendship. The illustrations are chock full of visual gags and charming characters, and the rhyming text is bouncy and delightful to read aloud. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ and I adored the food humor (a concert by “Juice Springsteen” was a favorite). A great addition to the series, 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.)

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!