Cooking and baking are two of the most loved holiday pastimes. Celebrate the season with your favorite little one by reading picture books all about food. Kids who get inspired can check out one of the many fun and easy-to-use cookbooks for children in the Fort Worth Library’s nonfiction collection as well.Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Scott Magoon Disney Hyperion, 2009 For ages 3 and up Spoon thinks he is the most unlucky utensil of all. His friends Knife and Fork get to do all sorts of things! Knife gets to cut food for its user, and people use Fork all the time when they eat. But all Spoon does is stir!After a long day of feeling sorry for himself, Spoon’s mom tucks him into his utensil-drawer bed and reminds him just how lucky he is: He is the only utensil that can “dive headfirst into a bowl of ice cream,” and “twirl around in a mug, or relax in a cup of hot tea.” Spoon is so excited that he has jobs in the kitchen that no other utensils have, he can’t sleep.What will Spoon do to get himself to bed? There’s only one thing! Readers will relate to Magoon’s sweet muted color drawings that give Spoon two endearing eyes and a mouth in the utensil’s bowl. Spoon is humanized further with two lines on the stem’s side and end that indicate arms and legs.It’s a sweet book that reminds us to celebrate each of our differences. The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems Disney Hyperion, 2012 For ages 3 and up A super fun book to read aloud! The Pigeon’s nemesis Duckling appears on a blank page, looks up and asks for a cookie.Magically, the cookie falls from what appears to be the top of the book. Duckling thanks the unseen cookie giver and observes that the cookie has chocolate chips and nuts. Pigeon must investigate how Duckling got a cookie. “Hey! How did you get that cookie?!” he asks. Duckling responds, “I asked for it … politely.”The Pigeon that is famous for asking for things — to drive the bus, for a hot dog and for a puppy, just to name a few — is irritated. Hilarity ensues as the Pigeon proceeds to get very annoyed, only to have the Duckling offer him the very same cookie he received earlier.Readers will laugh out loud at the funny conversation between Duckling and Pigeon and the ironic twist at the end. Even though the text is subtle, masterful Willems evokes so much emotion in his characters that even the youngest readers know exactly what Pigeon and Duckling are thinking and feeling.Yoko by Rosemary Wells Hyperion Books, 1998 For ages 4 and up Yoko the cat loves the sushi that her mother makes for her school lunch. The other students are both intrigued and a little grossed out since they usually have sandwiches for lunch. The kids were even a little mean about Yoko having raw fish, calling her food weird and yucky.Luckily, Yoko is not the only one who notices the bad behavior; her considerate teacher Mrs. Jenkins hatches a plan to help. Mrs. Jenkins invites the class to an international food day at school where students can sample foods from around the world.Of course, Yoko will bring her mother’s deluxe sushi for the class, but will the others love it as much as Yoko does? This is a sweet and simple book about the power of friendship and the importance of the impact a teacher can have on a class.Wells also illustrated the book, and fans of her “Max and Ruby” series will recognize her animal drawings immediately. Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel; illustrated by Janet Stevens Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999 For ages 3 and upWhen Rooster finds a cookbook written by his great-granny, the little red hen, he is excited (because he is so tired of chicken feed) to find a recipe for the most wonderful, magnificent strawberry shortcake in the world.With the help of his animal friends, he begins to cook. Turning on the oven proves to be easy, but the ingredients might be a problem, especially when Iguana substitutes a petunia flower for flour!Finally things get on track, but what will happen when Pig, which is given the job of tester, eats the whole shortcake in a split second? The animals decide that the kitchen is already a mess; maybe they should try again.This is an entertaining story about friendship, and kids will love the subtleties in the illustrations, such as when Iguana uses an oven mitt as a chef hat. For those wanting to try cooking, the back of the book includes the recipe for the most magnificent strawberry shortcake in the world. Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Paulette Bogan Bloomsbury, 2003 For ages 4 and upAnother farm story about chickens tired of feed! Can you imagine eating the same thing every day? The chickens can’t either, and they decide that they are no longer going to eat feed for every meal.Inspired by the farmer’s wife’s love for cooking shows, the chickens decide they need to make salsa. They quietly sneak to the garden with a plan orchestrated by the rooster to pick tomatoes and dig up onions. That night the chickens make salsa out of the tomatoes and onions, and it’s delicious!The ducks (thanks to Rooster) in the pond hear about the chickens’ salsa success and decide to get garlic and cilantro from the garden to make guacamole. Soon all the farm animals are tired of eating regular food, so they all gather ingredients to make a Southwestern fiesta.But when the farmer’s wife smells the delicious aromas, she decides to make tamales for the county fair. With no ingredients left in the garden, how will the animals make enough food for their party? Kids will love this clever story about the sneaky rooster and how he instigates a whole lot of fiesta fun. What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla; illustrated by Magaly Morales Tricycle Press, 2009 For ages 5 and up It might be late fall in North Texas, but the long, hot summer will be here again soon, making us long for cool treats. This vibrant book tells readers of the paleta, the Mexican ice pop. They’re sold out of a wagon, and children come running when they hear the bells signaling the sweet treat.Exaggerated illustrations show the little girl narrator in her colorful neighborhood with accordions playing and wonderful food cooking, as well as the paleta truck coming down the sidewalk. She tells readers of the many things one can do with a paleta: You can paint your tongue purple and green and scare people, or learn decision-making skills when choosing a flavor.A wonderful celebration of Hispanic culture and traditions will make readers hungry on the coldest of days. Be sure and look for the author’s companion book, What Can You Do With a Rebozo?, which celebrates the comforting Spanish shawl.
Lisa Smant is senior librarian for the Fort Worth Library Youth Center.