Category Archives: foodstuffs

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Alfred A. Knopf, 1964

“Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change color every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make chewing gum that never loses its taste, and candy balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up. And by a most secret method, he can make lovely blue birds’ eggs with black spots on them, and when you put one of these in your mouth, it gradually gets smaller and smaller until suddenly there is nothing left except a tiny little pink sugary baby bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.”

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Blueberries for Sal

blueberries

By Robert McCloskey

Viking, 1948

Little Sal picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail…kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! She picked three more berries and ate them. Then she picked more berries and dropped one in the pail — kuplunk! And the rest she ate. Then Little Sal ate all four blueberries out of her pail!

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Bread and Jam for Frances

jamm

By Russell Hoban, Pictures by Lillian Hoban

Harper & Row, 1964

It was breakfast time and everyone was at the table. Father was eating his egg. Mother was eating her egg. Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg too. Frances was eating bread and jam…She did not eat her egg. She sang a little song to it: I do not like the way you slide,/I do not like your soft inside,/I do not like you lots of ways,/And I could do for many days/Without eggs.

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Ella Takes the Cake

ella

By Carmela and Steven D’Amico

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005

It was already summer vacation and the bakery was busier than ever. Ella tried her best to help. But sometimes, she didn’t feel very helpful. She’d already swept the floor three times. There wasn’t a crumb on it. When the oven timer went off — DING! — Ella thought she’d help by taking out the macaroons. “No, no, no,” her mother sang. “You might burn yourself.”

Maybe it’s because I read this to my daughter while my son was attending his first day of nature camp and I was fraught with anxiety, but I found this book to be…a nail-biter. Little Ella, who surely owes a huge debt to Babar, insists on delivering an enormous three-tiered birthday cake. She is, of course, on her bike, while Danger Cake is pulled behind her in a clunky wooden wagon. Ella is blissfully unphased by the obstacles she encounters — including her belligerent “friend,” Belinda and an alarmingly steep hill.  I’m sure I read this story faster, louder, and with more urgency than my daughter would have liked. But I breathed a sigh of relief when Belinda delivered the cake to the Captain intact (and my son had a blast.)

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The Baker’s Dozen

baker

By Dan Andreasen

Henry Holt, 2007

The baker takes great care to make one cream eclair. In the oven he bakes two German chocolate cakes…

I had to smuggle this book out of my daughters’ bed to scan the cover you see above. An aspiring pastry chef (for now, at least), she’s been sleeping with this book every night since we found it at the library. It’s a short — and very sweet — counting book. (Pun intentional.) The jolliest baker you’ve ever seen spends his morning creating delectable treat after treat. I’ve never seen anyone enjoy their job so much. It’s something to aspire to.  The rhyming text is quietly efficient (kudos to Andreasen for finding something appropriate  to rhyme with “strudel”) but it’s the magical illustrations — which have a nostalgia about them — which elevate this book to “required reading” status.

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