The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids by Ruby Roth

November 1st, 2019 · Books

THE HELP YOURSELF COOKBOOK FOR KIDS by Ruby Roth is a joyful adventure in assembling snacks, creating colorful drinks, and exploring new flavors and textures in food. The vibrant combination of drawings and photographs of both ingredients and techniques makes the recipes even more appealing. 100% plant-based, each recipe is described in plain language with a kid-focus, and most include just a handful of ingredients.

Ruby Roth, the author of V is for Vegan and That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, opens the cookbook with an introduction to her eating philosophy and a summary of ingredients with which children may be unfamiliar. There is also a “Kitchen Safety” section and a note to caregivers that acknowledges discomfort with children in the kitchen, but encourages grown-ups to help make cooking both fun and healthy.

Snacks like banana Power Towers, basil Leaf Poppers, and kale Dino Rolls are both easy and tasty. Granola Crumble, Mushroom Jerky and Broc-O-Tree Bisque are easy, but require some use of the oven or stove. For slightly more involved recipes, Roth always includes an “adult alert.” This allows children a level of autonomy, but makes sure they stop and look for help when needed.

Aimed at the 6-12 year old age group, The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids is a fantastic introduction to cooking for children. It will help adults in a food rut re-ignite their love of playful food as well. Highly recommended!


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Future Engineer

October 18th, 2019 · Books

FUTURE ENGINEER by Lori Alexander and illustrated by Allison Black is the second in the Future Baby Series. Like Future Astronaut, the board book juxtaposes grown-up engineers with babies playing to compare their similar traits. “Engineers as questions” is met with an adorable image of a baby asking “Why? Why? Why?” And then, “Engineers draw their ideas on paper and computers” is depicted opposite “Baby draws on paper. And other places, too.” The baby, by the way, is scribbling on the wall with a very happy smile on their face.

Allison Black’s deceptively simple illustrations are expressive, engaging, and utterly adorable. The multi-ethnic characters are shown in full baby play mode, and even the shock of blocks falling is shown in bright colors and with surprise rather than sadness. In addition, the adult engineer, whose project has also fallen down, mirrors the baby’s expression wonderfully.

The last two pages of the book have facts about what different kinds of engineers do. The examples of what engineers make are familiar and relatable to a young child: rockets, televisions, toothpaste, and bridges. Overall, a colorful and fun introduction to engineering and how children really are future engineers.


Review by Kristin Wald

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Now You Know What You Eat

October 14th, 2019 · Books

Maple Syrup, peanut butter and jelly, and vegetable soup are all included in Valorie Fisher’s new NOW YOU KNOW WHAT YOU EAT. The eye-catching and bright 3D-style graphics are at once simple and detailed. And the various charts, info-graphics, and “Words to Know” sections break down details, making them understandable to children but still interesting and informative for caregivers.

The book goes into the parts of different whole foods, like apples and corn, and it also delves into the various steps – and other foods – needed to prepare a dill pickle. The illustrations of foods like garlic bulbs, potatoes, and peanuts show both above ground and below-ground growth. Highlighting the many colors included in corn kernels and eggs, as well as the many varieties of apples, pasta, and potatoes offers an opportunity for counting, naming colors, and learning about the diversity in nature.

The book is vegetarian, but not vegan. Eggs, honey, and milk products are all featured, and the food group graphic includes beef, chicken, and fish. And while alternatives to non-vegan items are not offered, the clear information and graphics will encourage families to talk about the choices they make in their meals and why they make them. For example, in the sections about eggs and honey, discussions about how many eggs a hen lays a year and how many bees and visits to flowers it takes to make one jar of honey are mentioned.

Readers will find a new appreciation for the work and ingenuity behind seemingly simple meals like macaroni and cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. NOW YOU KNOW WHAT YOU EAT will be a book that children (and their caregivers!) return to again and again. Children may also have a kindled interest in cooking, and we recommend cookbooks like Plant Powered Protein Cookbook that also break-down foods for creating meals.


Review by Kristin Wald


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Nic Bishop: Big Cats

September 30th, 2019 · Books

BIG CATS by Nic Bishop is a stunning collection of images of tigers, lions, jaguars, and several types of leopards. Aimed at children ages 4-8, the large photo spreads will draw readers in, and the simple captions provide interesting and surprising details that inform the images.

Nic Bishop’s vast experience photographing wildlife comes across in the gorgeous photographs that capture these big cats in various poses as they rest, stalk, pounce, and eat. A few favorite pages are a lion’s huge yawn, a puma in mid-leap, and what could pass as a glamour shot of the rare clouded leopard. There are several photos that include cubs, so children looking for big cat babies will be happy, too.

This is much more than a picture book! The words are both interesting and educational. The text on each page is split into three captions with three different font sizes. The largest font could serve as a heading, as the smaller font captions expand on it. However, caregivers of younger readers could also stick to just reading the text in largest font depending on attention span and interest. The smallest font is a true photo caption that names and elaborates on the big cat in the photo. The vocabulary doesn’t oversimplify, which makes a great opportunity for read-alouds for children who find the language overly challenging.

Before starting the book, readers should know that in several photos the big cats are eating their prey. While this opens up opportunities for discussions about the circle of life and how nature works in the wild, taking a look prior to reading the book with a child will help guide caregivers’ sharing as some children may find it disturbing.

The photographer’s endnote details his experiences capturing the images, highlights the endangerment of some of these big cats, and provides brief tales from his journeys. A short index and glossary at the end is helpful for looking up particular big cats or their actions. Don’t miss the photo of two grown lions rubbing heads in greeting!


Review by Kristin Wald


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