Children's Bookshelf - February 2018
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See What’s Cooking for Kids
by Michelle Centore

Whether it’s because of the allure of steaming hot chicken soup for dinner, or sweet hot cocoa topped with heaping swirls of whipped cream for dessert, the kitchen is one of the first places families gather to warm up during the icy winter months. But it isn’t just about the irresistible eats; kids and parents alike will be thrilled to know that the kitchen can also be a place of science, math and, as history shows us, happy accidents, too. However limited or eclectic your literary palate, we guarantee there is something on the shelves for everyone to devour.  

The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook by Mark Ainsworth is the perfect pick for a budding chef. Ainsworth begins by providing foundational knowledge about food safety, basic tools and techniques, and methods like sautéing and steaming. After a brief section about nutritious eating, he delves into simple recipes for everything from breakfast to dessert. Kid-friendly staples like grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes appear alongside global cuisine (think ratatouille and chicken curry) for a well-rounded introduction to food and cooking. If you’ve ever wanted to quell the objections of the picky eater in your life, choose a recipe from this book and try making it together.

Additional options abound for those who aren’t ready to venture into the kitchen. “The story you are about to savor is a fictional tale with a helping of truth,” advises the very first page of Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud. When restaurateur George Crum encounters a persnickety customer who insists on having his potatoes just so, he tinkers with a plateful of spuds in an attempt to satisfy his hungry patron. But, when the man refuses George’s creation, George is forced to continue improvising until the man is finally content. This account of how this ubiquitous snack came to be offers character-driven laughs and a very satisfying conclusion. An author’s note at the end imbues the story with the historical context that inspired Renaud’s tale.

Like potato chips before them, the creation of chocolate chip cookies is the stuff of legends. Writer and illustrator Gilbert Ford tackles them all with gusto in How the Cookie Crumbled: The True (and Not-So-True) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie. In one version, an accident involving Ruth Wakefield’s mixer is responsible for bringing cookie dough and chocolate together. In another, a quick-thinking Wakefield substitutes a chopped bar of chocolate for a missing ingredient. Yet another version maintains that Wakefield purposely invented the cookie after a trip to far-flung Egypt. No matter what you believe, Ford’s eye-catching illustration styles will undoubtedly make reading about this iconic confection irresistible for elementary-aged readers.

For a more health-conscious offering, check out T. Veg: The Story of a Carrot-Crunching Dinosaur by Smriti Prasadam-Halls. Reginald is a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a problem: he is an herbivore surrounded by meat eaters. His family doesn’t understand his distaste for juicy steaks, and friends tell him he’ll never be strong. Feeling lonely as the only “Tyrannosaurus Veg,” Reginald sets off on a journey to find others who love healthy fare as much as he does — only to terrify the very herbivores he sets out to befriend.  Meanwhile, the herd back home misses Reginald and sets out to find him. But will he be able to save his friends and family when a runaway boulder threatens to crash down their hill? Readers will cheer for the protagonist (and may find themselves sneaking a carrot stick or two) as the story unfolds.

Phaidon’s Cook in a Book Collection presents ingredients, recipes and related vocabulary in a way that toddlers and parents can share together. Pizza!, Pancakes! and Tacos! each provide step-by-step instructions for the littlest cooks and their parents. While many children will be too young to help caregivers in the kitchen, these clever board books are designed to be just as interactive as preparing a meal. Slicing an avocado to reveal the pit inside is as simple as lifting a flap. Raising tabs pours milk and flour. These books are designed to get parents and little ones engaging with one another through imaginative play. They will be a welcome addition in households where play kitchens get a lot of use.  

Events at Case Memorial Library

Case Memorial Library offers year-round story time sessions for children ages 0-5. On February 24, our monthly STEM Story Time for children, ages 3-5, will feature themes of counting and measurement. February will also bring many options for school-aged children, including a visit from Chinese acrobat Li Liu for Take Your Child to the Library Day on February 3, Valentine Crafts on February 7, a “Brownies in a Mug” event for tweens on February 14 and a healthy cooking class for kids on February 21. Ingrid Schaeffer will also present a drama workshop based on The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen on February 20.

To sign up for these, or any other programs throughout the year, please stop by the Children’s Room or call the number below.

Case Memorial Library is located at 176 Tyler City Road in Orange. For more information, call 203-891-2170 or visit

Michelle Centore is the Head of Children’s Services at Case Memorial Library.





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