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Favorite children's books that are food themed?

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  • fara May 18, 2011 06:11 PM

I have a 2year old. My favorites from my own childhood are Berenstain Bears "Too much junk food" which actually has nice pictures of old timey attitudes towards nutrition, now back in style. And "Bread and Jam for Francis" which is an ode to young Foodies. At the end Francis's mom gives her a lobster salad sandwich as part of breaking her bread and jam fast.

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  1. He might need a few years before "How to Eat Fried Worms" one of my childhood favorites. My daughter really liked "Eat!" by Diane Paterson. It does not appear to be inprint and I wouldn't pay $30 for a used copy. Maybe the library. We got ours at a yard sale.

    1. I forgot another one we both really liked. "How My Parents Learned to Eat" by Ina Friedman. A sailor (forks) falls in love with a Japanese woman (chopsticks) and both have to learn the other's way of eating.

      1. My daughter is 4 and loves Fanny goes to Chez Panisse by Alice Waters. It is a longer book so I never read the entire story in one sitting. It has easy recipes in the back. She also enjoys a book called "Your Food" which is part of a series by Green Team and is published by Crabtree. It's a fact filled book about where our food comes from and ethical/sustainable eating. It is geared towards older kids but she likes it anyhow because there are pictures. She also enjoys "too much junk food" and "something good" by Robert Munsch.

        1. I used to love reading "Cloudy with and Chance of Meatballs" to my daughter. :)

          When I was a kid, I'm in my 50s now, I loved a book that had the title "......and the Chocolate Witch". I don't remember the first part of the title but I loved reading about a land that was made of food.

          1. Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak.

            1 Reply
            1. re: small h

              +1

            2. Nitpick--the book's title is "Bread and Jam for Frances," not "Francis." One of my favorites as a little one, too.

              You'll have to wait until your kid's a little older, but the "Little House" books have some great descriptions of both single meals and general food preparation. "Little House in the Big Woods" describes a hog butchering, with Laura and Mary eagerly awaiting the finishing of the pig's tail roast. One of the later books--I want to say "Little Town on the Prairie"--describes the making of an actual blackbird pie, made from birds that destroyed the Ingalls family's crops.

              1. I love reading stories to my children and when there is something about food in them that might make them want to eat something different, even better. In my many hours of internet searching, I have just come across a blog that has recently been launched that is entirely about children's stories all with a food theme. The link is: www.foodytales.com I like the idea of reading a story to your child/ren and then recreating the meal that is contained within it. Anyway, thought it might be of interest!

                1 Reply
                1. re: quido

                  Green Eggs and Ham - is there anything more classic really?

                2. Starting at the beginning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I was a bookseller for almost 20 years, and VHC was always my favorite for babies and toddlers. I've probably sold thousands in all the formats over the years and have certainly given scores. Counting, colors, the days of the week, it's a classic.

                  1. "Bread and Honey"...by Frank Asch. It was a Little Bear book. We had quite a few Little Bear books when my kids were young. They loved when I read to them and this book was the best Little Bear book. In a nutshell, little Ben, the bear's mom bakes some bread. She tells him he can have some with honey when he comes home from school. The bear obsesses about the bread and honey. He draws a picture of his mom baking the bread. His friends all find fault with the picture, try to improve on it and basically ruin it. However, when Ben comes home, mommy loves the drawing and gives him bread and honey. It is just a sweet book that my kids (and this mommy) loved and I never grew tired of reading it. Sometimes, we would end the book and have some bread and honey with a cup of tea!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jarona

                      I loved the Little Bear books when I was growing up. My favorite was always Birthday Soup.

                    2. Again, this'll have to wait till your child is older, but there are some great food descriptions in "The Wind in the Willows". When Rat and Mole go on their first picnic, Rat reels off a great long description of all the foods he's packed. And that's just the beginning.

                      1. The first one I thought of was “cloudy with a chance of meatballs” that blew my mind as a kid and looks completely different than the recent movie. The second one that comes to mind is Tomie dePaola’s “Strega Nona” from Amazon: this ancient tale... reveals the agony and ecstasy of pasta power. Here are some more:

                        Maurice Sendak: In the Night Kitchen
                        Peggy Parish: Amelia Bedelia (I always laughed when she “Dressed the Chicken” and her pie making skills saved her job)
                        Tomie dePaola: Pancakes for Breakfast and The Popcorn Book

                        I did a little Amazon search because you peaked my interest and Lidia Bastianich has a children’s book about Italian Christmas traditions that focus on food it is called “Nonna Tell me a Story”

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: adido

                          I opened this thread solely to recommend Strega Nona. That was my dream come true when I was a kid.

                          ... Who am I kidding, that's my dream come true now!

                          1. re: charmedgirl

                            Me too, that's all I want in the world is a magic pot of pasta!

                        2. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky - it's about a girl and her mother picking blueberries in the Maine woods. Your kid will love it.

                          When he/she is a little older, you can read them his short story about the machine that makes doughnuts.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: 512window

                            OMG. I forgot about that--and Make Way for Ducklings.
                            Wow...Blueberries for Sal is one I read to the kids--and I loved it as a kid as well.

                            1. re: jarona

                              There's not a lot of food in Ducklings, so I didn't mention it. He wrote another one called One Morning in Maine, that's got some food parts.

                              Another oldie but goodie are the Winnie the Pooh books - Pooh does a lot to get to a nice pot of honey.

                            2. re: 512window

                              McClosky's book with the doughnut machine - indeed for slightly older children - is Homer Price, a favorite from my childhood. It's not a short story, actually, but a chapter book. My grandfather was art director in the children's department of Viking back in the day (responsible for the design of the books), and McClosky was one of the authors he worked with.

                            3. This might be a little older, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. I used to love the idea of living in a peach, then eating my way out.

                              1. There is a series of children's books by Amy Wilson Sanger that covers different types of ethnic food. Everything from sushi to soul food.

                                1. "Stranger's Bread" by Nancy Willard. My 1st grade teacher gave it to me at the end of the year. Was my favorite book as a kid. Great lessons in sharing as well.

                                  1. Not really food per se, but sort of. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach," both by the great Roald Dahl.

                                    1. I forgot about another Frank Asch book: "Popcorn". It was another bear book and was adorable! Oh...and then there was "Little Nino's Pizzeria" by Karen Barbour that my oldest son absolutely loved...and "Stone Soup"..even though it really wasn't real "soup" per se........

                                      1. ive lost track of how many books my 3 yo has
                                        but some off the top of my head..

                                        if u give a mouse a cookie...
                                        if u give a moose a muffin...
                                        dr suess books..
                                        very hungry caterpillar..
                                        the LLama books..

                                        and many more that escape me at the moment...

                                        1. "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are both full of food and eating references. Here's but one:

                                          Beautiful Soup

                                          BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
                                          Waiting in a hot tureen!
                                          Who for such dainties would not stoop?
                                          Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
                                          Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

                                          Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
                                          Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
                                          Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
                                          Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

                                          Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
                                          Game, or any other dish?
                                          Who would not give all else for two
                                          Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
                                          Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

                                          Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
                                          Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
                                          Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
                                          Beautiful, beauti--FUL SOUP!

                                          1. Stone Soup was a favorite as a kid and is at least partially to blame with my life long fascination with soup.

                                            Pascual and the kitchen angels, and The Popcorn Book, by Tomie DePaulo, who also did Strega Nona.

                                            Bee-bim bop! by Linda Sue Park, which will introduce your child to Korean food.

                                            1. Poky Little Puppy was my favorite as a child, my kids liked it as well, and still have a copy. mmmmm pudding.

                                              1. Baby's First Book of Sushi
                                                Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
                                                Mr. Sugar Comes to Town
                                                Stone Soup
                                                Strega Nona
                                                Chicken Soup With Rice

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ola

                                                  We also love first book o f sushi. The mixed media style is inspiring for crafts too.

                                                2. I immediately thought of Bread And Jamm.... but only after an image from a book I hope someone knows the name of. The image is of a little girl who brings her lunch to school with a little table cloth, fork, knife, salt and pepper shakers. Another image that always stuck with me is of the last page in the Little Match Girl.

                                                  Edit; OMG! I just looked up Little Match Girl and realized she died in the end! Not my memory; mine was of a feast. Bummer.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                    yeah, you have to be careful with Hans Christian Andersen

                                                  2. The Hungry Thing. It's about a village of people trying to sate a hungry monster. He is not scary but cuddly, and asks for foods in riddles that will make little ones laugh.

                                                    1. Cook-A-Doodle-Doo

                                                      1. My kids and I LOVE Jerry Seinfeld's book Halloween. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I read it to their classes every year around Halloween when they both were in elementary school. You can hear Jerry reciting the book as you read (and admittedly I start speaking like him when I read it aloud). The kids all laugh and I still find it funny as hell when I'm reading it.

                                                        Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is my hands down favorite children's book. I found a first edition on ebay (or maybe it's the 2nd ed.) after my first child was born and saved it for her. She loved it like I did, when she was old enough to appreciate it.

                                                        1. I can't believe no one's mentioned The Seven Silly Eaters, by Mary Ann Hoberman. All the kids are picky eaters and the mom has to deal with their crazy specialized food preferences. Really great illustrations and a rhyming story that's fun to read. My daughter asks for this story all the time.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: AverageJo

                                                            Which reminds me of another. Gregory, the Terrible Eater. It's about goat who refuses to eat "normal" goat things like ties and tin cans, and wants sandwiches and pasta.

                                                          2. ...another one i remember...about a town that had bugs and they got rid of them with a giant jelly sandwich....dont remember the name of it tho...

                                                            and one thats probably not so PC anymore.. but my grandmother had a book about the little boy who came across tigers and traded his clothes so they wouldnt eat him and they argued about who had the better clothes and chased each other until they turned into butter...

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: srsone

                                                              I remember that!
                                                              The Story of Little Black Sambo
                                                              " Sambo is a South Indian boy who encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter"

                                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stor...
                                                              The book has been controversial in Japan as well, both for racism and piracy. Little Black Sambo (ちびくろサンボ Chibikuro Sambo?) was first published in Japan by Iwanami Shoten Publishing in 1953. The book was a pirated version of the original, and it contained drawings by Frank Dobias that had appeared in a US edition published by Macmillan Publishers in 1927. Sambo was illustrated as an African boy rather than as an Indian boy. Although it did not contain Bannerman's original illustrations, the pirated book was long mistaken for the original version in Japan. It sold over 1,000,000 copies before it was pulled off the shelves in 1988 after being accused of depicting racist characterisations. Just after Iwanami's success, most of the Japanese publishers, including Kodansha and Shogakukan, the two largest publishers in Japan, published their versions of pirated Little Black Sambo. In 1988, all these publishers followed Iwanami and withdrew their books from the market altogether.

                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                Now somebody....PLEASE.....the girl with the table cloth?

                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  Could it be "What's for Lunch, Charley?" Charley is a boy who takes a sandwich to lunch, but the new girl brings a little tablecloth, a thermos of tomato soup, a chicken leg, salt and pepper shakers, etc. Later in the book Charley forgets his lunch, so he goes to a fancy restaurant and orders exactly the same thing the new girl brought. I had that book when I was a child and I loved it!

                                                                  1. re: littlemissmuffin

                                                                    That's it!!! Thank you!

                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Lunch-Cha...

                                                                2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  thats it ....i didnt know about the japan part tho.....

                                                                  i wonder how old the version my grandmother had is...

                                                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                    That was one of my two favorite stories as a child.
                                                                    I'm glad to hear that more sensitive versions of the book have survived.

                                                                  2. re: srsone

                                                                    I have the book about the jam sandwich. It's called..The Giant Jam Sandwich! I like the name of the town in the book - it's called Itching Down.

                                                                    1. re: littlemissmuffin

                                                                      jeez....i couldnt remember it...all i remember is the bugs and the sandwich...
                                                                      (it has been a long time since i read it....)

                                                                      thanks

                                                                  3. Wonderful post! Some other favorites: The Duchess Who Baked A Cake (hysterical rhymes); Cookie Count is an amazing pop-up counting book that has gorgeous, gorgeous art; How to Make an Apple Pie is about a girl who travels around the world gathering all the ingredients for baking a pie; How Are You Peeling is a photo book of food (like a pepper with black-eyed peas for eyes) that looks like animals -- it's a series. The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. I could go on and on and on...

                                                                    1. I always loved the way they describe the food in the Mrs. Piggly Wiggly books. It always felt very warm and fuzzy.

                                                                      1. Green Eggs and Ham!

                                                                        1. My 30 yr old son says his favorite was Hansel and Gretel!!

                                                                          1. I always liked the Encyclopedia Brown series, and one of my favorites was a mysteries with recipes interspersed. I remember making brownies and possibly lemon curd from that book.

                                                                            There was also Bread and Jam for Francis about a little critter-girl who would only eat bread and jam. Eventually she comes around, and I think the description of her eating an egg with a little container of salt and pepper made me so crazy for lunch boxes and accessories.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: corneygirl

                                                                              Frances was a badger. I loved those books.

                                                                              1. re: small h

                                                                                I loved them as well! I still think about her unpacking her (or was it her friend) unpacking the more complicated lunch and eating it deliberately as I make my own... It's no wonder that I blocked out what kind of critter she was since I live in Hawkeye country and we aren't big Badgers fans!

                                                                              2. re: corneygirl

                                                                                Check out Mem Fox for great books and foods from Australia! She even has recipes on her website. One of my favorite authors to read when I taught Kindergarten! I also loved reading Bread and Jam for Frances.

                                                                              3. Let’s see, Goldilocks and the Three Bears did some serious porridge eating. Jack and The Beanstalk – the giant wanted to grind some bones to make his bread not to mention the beans, and then there’s that poor Old Lady Who Ate a Fly

                                                                                1. Just remembered another one. The Amelia Bedelia series was one of my favorites, and I remember one book in particular had her baking chocolate chip cookies and mixing crushed potato chips into the batter to make them crunchy. 5 year old charmedgirl thought that was freaking genius and insisted her dad try it with her.

                                                                                  ETA: just googled. It's Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping.

                                                                                  1. I don't think it was a whole book, just a tale, but one of my favorites was "The Little Red Hen."

                                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Litt...

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                      I OFTEN share this story with my family, but to no avail.

                                                                                    2. "Ice Cream Soup" !!! one of my faves amongst many...and I have to agree about amelia bedelia. I used to read and laugh at those books for hours. Of course my favourite out of the series was the one where she baked a cake and had to put "dates" in it.

                                                                                      1. Beatrix Potter's books
                                                                                        "Jelly Beans for Breakfast," by Miriam Young
                                                                                        "In the Night Kitchen" and "Chicken Soup with Rice," by Maurice Sendak (among others)

                                                                                        1. This discussion also reminded me of another favorite somewhat food-themed childhood tale: The Gingerbread Man.

                                                                                          1. On of the Lemony Snicket books chronicles the unfortunate orphans making pasta with a puttanesca sauce on a shoe string budget for the evil uncle and his cronies. Good stuff.