Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tasty Travel

There's no doubt about it, children love eating.  Within minutes of finishing one meal, they are asking when the next one will be served.  Eating not only feeds their bodies but their souls. Comforting and fond memories are associated with meals due to words and activities associated with those moments.  Stories are shared.  Lessons are learned.  Hopefully, there is loads of laughter.

One thing they enjoy even more than eating is cooking.  This form of creating appeals to all the senses with a delicious conclusion.  Kids Cooking: Students Prepare and Eat Foods from Around the World (Candlewick Press, October 23, 2018) written and illustrated by George Ancona gives us a peek inside the kitchens of several schools; children traveling to other countries one meal at a time.

Today is cooking day!  There are many 
smiles as the kids head to the kitchen.

In the first school, before the preparation begins, an instructor explains about the root vegetables and fresh ginger used in the recipe from the North African country of Morocco.  These vegetables are accompanied by a sauce called chermoula along with oranges and mint leaves.  Wash your hands everyone!

Gals and guys are taught how to cut the vegetables and measure spices.  As the vegetables roast, the children draw pictures of those vegetables.  Other students work to blend the ingredients for the sauce and two other groups work on the mint and the oranges.  With the cooking completed, all sit at the table to eat.

As-salamu alaykum means "Peace be upon you" in Arabic.

At the next school Chinese-American dishes are made but not before children see where China is located on a globe.  Rice is mixed with an array of chopped vegetables, eggs, soy sauce and garlic.  A cold dish, sweet and sour cucumbers, completes this meal.  Even clean-up is fun for these students.

A pot of soup bubbles on the stove after lots of chopping and slicing.  In another area dough is kneaded and shaped for bread sticks.  Minestrone is a favorite dish from Italy.

In the last two schools children learn about the variety of tomatoes used in salsa.  What else is blended with the tomatoes?  Have you ever made corn tortillas using homemade dough and a press? A tale of tamales and family begins another lesson.  At three separate stations children work on the three parts of a tamale.

Buen provecho estudiantes!

As soon as you read the first three sentences, you are fully aware George Ancona enjoys making books for children especially those featuring children.  The flow of one sentence to the next is a descriptive conversation of each cooking day.  Educators and children are named giving the narrative a personal note.  It's like stepping into the kitchen with the students.

For each meal the ingredients are listed along with safety in the kitchen mentioned.  This is a whole experience for these students and us readers. Here is a passage.

Esteban and Kimberley begin making the chermoula by
chopping an herb called cilantro.  Kimberley adds the spices,
olive oil, and lemon juice.

Then, using a mortar and pestle, Natalie grinds everything
into a smooth, delicious sauce.  Natalie's dad lends a hand.
Family members come to the kitchen to help on cooking days. 

One of the first things you notice about the opened, matching dust jacket and book case (after the pleasing layout) is the faces of the children.  They are doing everything with intention.  They are fully engaged.  This is a hint of the wonder within the pages.  George Ancona is highly skilled at capturing the essence of a moment.  Along the bottom of the front and in one of the spaces on the back are drawings made by the students.

The use of hues of blue is carried over to the opening and closing endpapers covered in a royal blue.  Four new children are featured in squares framing the text on the title page.  Throughout the book in a variety of sizes and points of view, George complements and heightens his text with delightful photographs of the children.

He also includes pictures of the ingredients which are like colorful still life paintings.  Sometimes a portion of an image will be framed in white space or an edge of it will break the border of another illustration.  Nearly every page turn includes artwork by the students.

You are certain to be smiling and craving time in the kitchen or browsing through cookbooks after reading Kids Cooking: Students Prepare and Eat Foods from Around the World written and illustrated by George Ancona.  This author illustrator knows his subjects with the keen eye of a photographer and the heart of a writer.  You can use this title with his other book, It's Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden.  For a theme on cooking, food, or countries around the world, this book is highly recommended for your professional or personal collections. 

To learn more about George Ancona and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  At Penguin Random House and Candlewick Press you can view interior images.  George Ancona is interviewed by students at ScholasticIn the acknowledgments George talks about the Cooking with Kids program.  At that website are recipes for some of the food showcased here.

You will want to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the other titles selected this week by participants in the 2018 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

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