I have always loved Thanksgiving. Every year, I view it as welcome break to spend time with family, express gratitude for the blessings and privileges I enjoy, and eat yummy foods that for some reason we only make once a year (if anyone wants to normalize making cranberry sauce and stuffing year-round I will support that crusade). But, like everything good, Thanksgiving will probably look pretty different this year. Here’s hoping that we are all still able to express gratitude for all that we do have, and eat some delicious food with our families.
As you prepare for Thanksgiving, here are some of the best kid-lit chefs to get you in the mood to cook up a delicious feast of your own. Be warned – better not to read while hungry!
By Lily LaMotte
Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle with her parents and is still trying to adjust to her new school and country. More than anything, she misses her grandmother back in Taiwan. When she sees an advertisement for a kids’ cooking contest with a cash prize, Cici cooks up a plan to win the prize money and bring A-ma to Seattle for her 70th birthday. It seems easy enough, until she meets her assigned competition partner – the intimidating Miranda who works in her family’s fancy restaurant and insists that they won’t win the competition by making Taiwanese food. This new middle-grade graphic novel focuses on Cici while she figures out where she fits in.
FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON
By Janae Marks
The summer before seventh grade, 12-year-old aspiring pastry chef Zoe Washington, plans to spend her free-time preparing to audition for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge by interning at a local bakery. But when she receives a letter from her father who’s been imprisoned for murder since before Zoe was born, she secretly begins a correspondence with him. As Zoe gets to know her father better, she learns about inequality in the criminal justice system and strives to get her dad’s verdict appealed – all while perfecting a recipe for a signature cupcake. This book balances discussion of social justice, family connections, and mouthwatering descriptions of treats.
PIE IN THE SKY
By Remy Lai
Jingwen has just moved to a new country -- but it feels like he’s landed on a new planet. School is torture, making friends is impossible because he doesn’t speak English, and he keeps getting stuck babysitting his very annoying little brother Yanghao. To distract himself, Jingwen plans to make fancy cakes like his dad used to make before he died. The only problem is, his mom won’t let the brothers use the oven while she’s at work, so Jingwen and Yanghao bake cakes in secret – carefully eating all the evidence before she returns home. This middle grade novel with spot-illustrations is a hilarious and heartwarming immigrant story filled with some tasty looking cakes.
JASMINE TOGUCHI, MOCHI QUEEN
By Debbi Michiko Florence
Jasmine Toguchi’s family is gathering to celebrate the new year and make mochi, sweet rice cakes from Japan. Though Jasmine is considered too young to help with the mochi-making like her older sister Sophie, she is eager to help out. Jasmine becomes determined to involve herself in the mochi-making process, despite being too young and a girl, and commits herself to proving to her family that she is strong enough to help the men pound out mochi – even lifting weights with her cousins. This intermediate chapter book is all about food, family, and togetherness – with instructions for attempting your own mochi to boot.
BILAL COOKS DAAL
By Aisha Saeed
Bilal and his dad are making his favorite dish for dinner – chana daal – and Bilal invites his friends Morgan and Elias to help. Though the boys are excited to help prepare the classic South Asian dish, they begin to express a little uncertainty that it smells and looks funny. Bilal becomes worried that his friends won’t like his favorite food and spends the day worried as the boys play and wait for the daal to cook. When the meal is finally ready and the friends sit down to dine – the daal’s a hit! This foodie picture book is perfect for young food obsessed readers interested in exploring new cuisine and includes a daal recipe to try making your own at home.