Claire Gallant

Favourite Food-Themed Children's Books

Claire Gallant
Favourite Food-Themed Children's Books

"This tastes like a whole raft of lemons. This tastes like a night on the sea."

To take you into the weekend, here's a little round-up of my favourite books to read to my kids that tell great stories about food. There are some real gems out there, both old and new. 

Spoon, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Scott Magoon

When they were ready, they set a beautiful table, making sure the flowers were fresh and all the cups were full.
— Julia, Child

This lovely little story by the late, great Amy Krouse Rosenthal is about a family of spoons. For a while, my son had the whole thing memorized. It's full of punny jokes for the grown-ups, and adorable things like chopsticks dancing. 

Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Hayelin Choi

Alice Waters and her food philosophy are a big inspiration for my company (as I've talked about here). This is the story, in picture-book form, of how she started Chez Panisse, her groundbreaking restaurant in California, and also how she supports children's culinary education through the Edible Schoolyard initiative. The book talks about offering kids fresh, whole veggies and including kids in the process of growing and sharing food. 

Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad

Another great one, about another inspirational female food pioneer. This is the fictional account of how a young Julia Child became interested in cooking French food. It emphasizes the importance of careful and intentional cooking and sitting together to enjoy a meal.

Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake! And nothing’s the matter!
— In the Night Kitchen

In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak

Title page from my copy of In the Night Kitchen, dated 31 years ago. 

Title page from my copy of In the Night Kitchen, dated 31 years ago. 

Published in 1970, this is one of my childhood favourites. The boy hero flies in a plane made of dough and dives into a giant bottle of milk. Wildly imaginative, like all Maurice Sendak.

The Stories Julian Tells, by Ann Cameron and Ann Strugnell

This one, another I loved as a child, contains 6 short stories. The first, tied to the book's cover image, is called A Pudding Like a Night on the Sea. A father and his sons make a lemon pudding for the mother. Its poetic line (with which I began this post) has always stuck with me.

Empty Fridge, by Gaetan Doremus

The most remarkable and unusual of the pack, Empty Fridge tells the story of an apartment building where all the residents contribute ingredients towards a communally made and shared dinner. It's a rare example of a kids' book set in an apartment building, and the children have roles as significant as the adults in the preparation and eating of the meal. The entire neighbourhood eats dinner outside together.

In Empty Fridge, everyone eats quiche. "Why don't we do this every day?"

In Empty Fridge, everyone eats quiche. "Why don't we do this every day?"

There are countless other examples of children's books where food plays a big role, from Bread and Jam for Frances to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I've always found it fun to tie our activity in the kitchen to the stories we choose. Happy reading!