Weekend Cooking: Books for little foodies

 

Do you have a little foodie in your house? I’ve been trying to cultivate my four-year-old’s palate ever since he was born.

We’ve had a lot of problems with food early on. He had really bad eczema all over his face and arms ever since he was a few months old and finally we took him for allergy testing – first blood then when he was a bit older, skin. And discovered that he’s allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. And initially eggs and wheat too. You wouldn’t know he had eczema today though. A combination of bleach baths, steroids, lots of moisturizing and regular visits with allergists and dermatologists, at least for the first couple of years of his life.
 

His first skin test

 

The first time he broke out in hives. It still happens once in a while, due more to high temperatures than with food

 

So we spent the first couple of years of his life worrying about his diet. We managed to slowly introduce eggs and wheat into his diet and he’s no longer allergic to eggs and wheat. Nuts are of course a different matter. So for a kid with allergies, or really, for a four-year-old in general, he’s done exceptionally well for his age I reckon, as he is wiling to try new things, like smoked salmon. His favourite meals include avocado sushi, mac and cheese, He’s also the kid who says “yay! Roasted cauliflower!” when he hears what’s for dinner. Asked to name his favourite vegetables and he includes Brussels sprouts, corn and edamame. We generally eat together as a family and I don’t make separate meals for the kids but I do try to come up with a variety of different styles of foods, pasta one day, rice, meat, veg the next, noodles, that kind of thing.

 

He loves his carbs

I also have a two-year-old and he is in an absolute anti-vegetable stage at the moment. I have only recently managed to get him to like eating baby carrots again, after serving it with Japanese mayonnaise. He’s a funny one, he’s kind of like an old Asian man, telling me today that the leftover birthday cake was “too cold”. He has had a love for soups – clear, Asian-style soup – since he was 1.5. He prefers to eat rice instead of baked potatoes and loves noodles.

beebimbop

Anyway, about those books, I recently picked up Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee from the library book sale. It’s a fun little book about a girl and her family preparing beebimbop (bibimbap?) and then sitting down to eat it for dinner. There’s even a recipe for bibimbap at the back of the book. Of course after reading it, the kids asked for it for dinner. I’ve made it several times before but this time they really seemed to like it. I made it with beef, carrots, eggs, mushrooms and peas and corn.

 Then I started thinking of all those foodie books for kids that we’ve borrowed in the past few years.

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Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, by Susanna Reich and Amy Bales

Told from the point of view of Julia Child’s cat! It has a rustic, handpainted, almost vintage look to its illustrations. And by that I mean, it seems more geared towards adults than younger children.

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Dim Sum for Everyone – Grace Lin

The family goes out for dim sum and everyone gets to choose their favourite dish. Simple language, colourful drawings. A hit with my kids.

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mangiamangia

For babies, there are foodie board books like My First Book of Sushi by Amy Wilson Sanger. Sanger isn’t just doing books about sushi, she’s also written books about dim sum, Italian food, Indian food, soul food and more. The rhymes are simple and the pictures colourful, just right for little ones.

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LMNO Peas – Keith Baker

Peas are the stars of this alphabet book

mooncakeshapes

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Round is a mooncake and Green is a chile pepper– Roseanne Thong

We’ve not yet read Green is a chile pepper but Thong uses different cultures to demonstrate these concepts – shapes and colours.
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In the Night kitchen – Maurice Sendak

A classic, and lots of fun

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Max makes a cake – Michelle Edwards ; illustrated by Charles Santoso

And not just any cake, a surprise Passover birthday cake for his mummy! It involves a lot of frosting, so my older son was very pleased.

 

Frank Asch has also written a few food-related books, like

popcorn

I loved this book as a kid and was delighted to find a copy at my library’s book sale

 

pizza

 

Monica Wellington is another children’s book author who has a few food-related ones:

crepes cookiebaker

 

There are plenty of other books that I’ve come across, but that we’ve not yet read, like

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Julia, Child – Kyo Maclear  (Author), Julie Morstad (Illustrator)

pancit

 

 

What are some foodie picture books that you’ve come across lately? 
weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Squirky! And Stacey!

This post is long overdue – with all my apologies!

For my friends Melanie and Lianne have (quite a while ago!) written and published these lovely picture books. And more importantly, packed them up, went to the post office, and mailed them to me all the way from Singapore.

So first of all, a very big thank you to both Melanie and Lianne for adding a taste of Singapore to my little readers’ bookshelves. It is quite rare to find books from Singapore/written by Singaporeans etc in libraries here and it’s even more unlikely to find Singapore children’s’ books!

So while they might not understand its significance yet, I’m happy that they get to read books about Singapore, written and illustrated by Singaporeans even though we live half a world away! More significantly, I think they’ve got more Singapore books than I ever had when growing up in Singapore in the 1980s!

 

 

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The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #1: Why Am I Blue? – Melanie Lee

(Here’s the book’s very own blog! It also has information on where to find the book)

This isn’t officially a review as Melanie asked me to be a beta reader (I know, I couldn’t believe it? Someone wanted me to read a book before it was published? And provide suggestions and comments? How could I say no?)

This is the first book in Melanie’s first children’s picture book series. She wrote this for her son, whom she and her husband adopted a few years ago. I had the privilege of meeting the cheerful boy when I was last in Singapore, and what a great kid he is – and also, what a wonderful mummy Melanie is!

Squirky is a little blue alien, adopted by a Chinese family in Singapore. And in this first book, he discovers that he’s a little bit different from his sister Emma, his parents and his friends. His parents tell him how they came to adopt him and he begins his search for his birth parents and home planet. This a six-book series so there’s a bit of a cliffhanger! Wee Reader wondered, what’s going on? So I had to tell him he had to wait for the next book (of course not telling him that I’ve actually read that manuscript already! Hee. The joys of being a beta reader!)

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There aren’t many picture books on adoption, and I’m not sure if there are any others written by Singaporeans, so this is a rather unique book.

My first experience (I’m not sure that’s the right word but I can’t think of anything else at the moment) with adoption is my aunt, my mother’s younger sister, who was given away when she was young. It’s hard to explain but it wasn’t such a rare thing to do at that time in Singapore, in the 1950s. She was given away to a family friend but would still join us for important events like my grandparents’ birthday dinners. So she was like a relative I would see a few times a year. As a kid, I never thought much about it, but as I grew up, I began to wonder about that a bit more. But you know us Asians, we don’t really talk about things very much. It has been quite a few years since I’ve seen this auntie but I’ve been wondering how she feels about having been given away and yet still remain somewhat close to her birth family.

But I am meandering.

Melanie has written a fun book that would appeal to most kids, adopted or not. It’s a story about a loving family and their unique little boy. Sure he may be blue but he is loved by his mummy and daddy and sister Emma. I think many kids will understand what it is to feel different, to be different. And this book shows that it’s ok to be different, and that you can still be loved and appreciated for who you are.

Oh and that Emma, she’s a spunky one, that kid. I think I especially liked how she doesn’t have long hair and wears shorts. Because girls don’t always have to be in dresses!

 

 

 

staceynationalmuseum

This is Lianne’s second children’s book. I wrote about her first book, Maxilla, on the blog previously. While Maxilla was based on her son Reuben’s experiences, Stacey goes to the National Museum is fictional, and has a hint of make-believe about it.

Stacey, along with her mummy and baby brother, visit the Singapore National Museum. And Stacey gets lost! A little gibbon helps her find her way around the museum and back to her mummy and brother.

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Wee Reader had fun spotting the gibbon as it made its way through the museum. We didn’t get to visit the National Museum when we visited Singapore last year but hopefully we will the next time we are in the country! I hear it is so very different from the National Museum I remember. But I’m glad to see that they kept the lovely building and all its features!

But he also likes to point out the durian painting. While he’s not had the actual fruit itself, Wee Reader does enjoy durian mooncakes!

I liked the use of actual paintings like this one, part of the William Farquhar Collection on display at the museum, and where the gibbon is from. They were painted by unknown artists, commissioned by William Farquhar between 1819 and 1823, during his tenure as Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

 

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Stacey goes to the National Museum would make a great souvenir for kids visiting Singapore! It is part of a series of books about museums in Singapore.

For more information on Stacey Goes to the National Museum, check out its Facebook page
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Wee Reader Recommends: Maxilla by Lianne Ong

 

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It’s always exciting to read a book that a friend has written, so when Maxilla arrived in my mailbox, I couldn’t wait to read it with Wee Reader.

Maxilla is a heartwarming picture book written by Lianne Ong and illustrated by Shing about Lianne’s son Reuben and his real-life adventure of finding a caterpillar in his school garden and bringing it home as a pet.

Wee Reader and I are reading longer stories these days so he was quite absorbed in the story. It had a great message about appreciating nature  and wildlife, and how creatures even as small as a caterpillar should be allowed to live free as they are meant to be. And such charming illustrations! I especially liked how Reuben and his mum went to the library, and to the Junior Museum – which we’ve been to several times – to check out its insect exhibits in order to find out what type of butterfly it would turn into. And the little note at the end of the story explaining a caterpillar’s life cycle. Unfortunately Wee Reader could not remember meeting and playing with Reuben – Reuben and his family used to live in the Bay Area, but returned to Singapore more than a year ago.

When we finished reading Maxilla together, Wee Reader said, “Mummy read again!”. Perhaps the best praise any kid could give a book.

Check out Maxilla on Facebook or buy it online

I received a copy from the publisher for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lianne Ong is a freelance writer who writes primarily about parenting, education and fashion. Maxilla was written based on events that happened when her family was living in California. She now lives in Singapore with her husband and two children, Reuben and Phoebe.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Shing is an artist who studied at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. Her sculptures and paintings adorn many corporate buildings in Singapore and her work has appeared in exhibitions throughout Asia. She was nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2012. She lives in Fukuoka and is the mother of two boys, Yuuri and Rui.

Wee Reader Recommends: Books for a construction-obsessed toddler (aged almost 3)

Ok so I realize that I’m just adding to that gender stereotype here by borrowing construction-related books for Wee Reader. He does read other books too, Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins,  illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, Rabbit Lost by Harry Horse, and Maisy Learns to Swim by Lucy Cousins being some non-construction, non-vehicle recent favorites. But he always seems to spot some truck/boat/train/construction book on the shelves and makes a beeline for it. And proudly carries it to the checkout machines himself. So in case you know of an equally construction-obsessed young one, here are some of our recommendations!

demolition

Demolition – Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

Great illustrations that even an adult can appreciate, a very effective and memorable rhyme about the demolition process (including a wrecking ball, mobile crusher, wood chipper and so on), and great use of onomatopoeia (“Bim! Bam! Twock!”). This is one picture book I don’t mind re-reading (and we do this nearly every day, with Wee Reader chorusing along on most of the rhymes). Plus, there are female construction workers!

We have also read Sutton’s Farmer John’s Tractor, also a great rhyming story with lovely watercolor illustrations.

goodnightconstructionsite

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

A suitable book for bedtime and nap times as Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator get ready for bed – yes, they snuggle up tight with a teddy bear and snore and all that. Another almost-daily read. Some of the rhymes are stretching it a bit, in my opinion, but he loves it, and often chants the rhymes to himself.

While he is also a fan of trains, Wee Reader did not think much of Rinker’s Steam Train, Dream Train. But we have enjoyed plenty of Tom Lichtenheld-illustrated books like Cloudette, and Yes Day!

riasetheroof

Raise the Roof – Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Elwood Smith

This book has less of a focus on the construction machinery but it’s about the building of a house (helped by a dog). Cute illustrations, the kind with a little something to spot everywhere.

Suen has also written picture books such as Subway, and Road Work Ahead. 

bisforbulldozer

B is for Bulldozer – June Sobel, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

A is for Asphalt, B is for Bulldozer. We read along as a theme park is being built, all the way until Zoom! Great for learning the alphabet.

Wee Reader has also enjoyed Iwai’s Soup Day.

20bigtrucks

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street – Mark Lee

An ice cream truck breaks down and starts a traffic jam, and luckily enough there are plenty of construction machinery like a crane truck and a cement mixer. Good for those learning to count.

phoebedigger

Phoebe and Digger – Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Jeff Newman

‘When Mama got a new baby, Phoebe got a new digger.” Cute story. Plus a girl and a digger!

These are some of his favorites so far. The library still has plenty for us to check out! Any recommendations??