Thursday, February 22, 2018

Recipes in Books

Books utilizing recipes as an element – enrichment element or integral part of the story:

Some recipes become part of the story and are integral to the plot such as Cranberry bread is an integral part to the plot of the classic Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin (now available from Purple House Press). Or matzo cake which is the center of Max Bakes a Cake byMichelle Edwards, illustrated by Charles Santoso (Random House, 2014) in which Max sets out to make a matzo cake.
Other books include recipes as an add-on or an enrichment element to stories that suggest certain foods but the story would have been essentially the same if any other food had been mentioned.

The type of books range from beginning readers to historical fiction, concept books and contemporary fiction, to folk literature.  All types of books lend themselves for including recipes and food.

Wild Berries by Julie Flett  (Simply Read Books, 2013)
            (A Cree Tale) – Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother.  Meet ant, spider, and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of the author and illustrator Julie Flett.  (Recipe for Blueberry Jam is an “enrichment” element).

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015)
            Depicts families, from England to California and from 1710 to 2010, preparing Blackberry Fool. Includes recipe and historical notes.  (Recipe for Blackberry Fool is an integral part of the story plot) Information about the controversy surrounding the title's depiction of the family representing the 1810 time period.

The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicolas Tale by Aaron Shepard, illustrated by Wendy Edelson. (Skyhook Press, 2017)
            Provides the background for the term “A Baker’s Dozen” – all which started when an old woman insists that a dozen is thirteen. The folktale was originally published in 2010 but retold and published in this edition in 2017.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. (Atheneum, 2017).
            When Audrey Faye Hendricks was just nine she heard grown ups plan for wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws.  She joined the protest – she joined the children’s march in Birmingham. The book begins: “Whenever Mike flew into town, Audrey and her Momma COO-OOKED! Barbecued ribs, stewed greens, sweet potato soufflé, and Audrey’s favorite hot rolls baptized in butter.  (Historical fiction; Includes the recipe the grown-up Audrey and her sister Jan Hendricks Fuller created in an effort to recreate the rolls made by their mother Mrs. Hendricks).
Because of Thursday by Patricia Polacco (Simon & Schuster, 2016)
            Annie Ferlock had always thought that Thursday was her lucky day. She won her first cooking contest at age 8 on a Thursday, met the love of her life on a Thursday, married on a Thursday, and each of their two children were born on a Thursday.  She is know far and wide for her “poke salad.”  But when Mario, Annie’s husband, dies she loses all of her joy and love for cooking – but when kitty appears, things change “Thursday” and Annie has some help creating Ugly Pasta – the dish that makes Annie famous.  (Fiction: Recipe for Polacco’s Ugly Pasta is included).

Pass the Pandowdy Please: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and Their Fabulous Foods by Abigail Ewing Zelz.  Illustrated by Eric Zelz. (Tilbury House Publishers, 2016).  Famous people such as Abe Lincoln, Babe Ruth, Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, and Neil Armstrong share their eating culture.  What did they eat? And what did others in different circumstances during their time, eat?  It was Abe Lincoln's love of apples that inspired the inclusion of  the apple recipe - the pandowdy, in this book.

Cooking with the Grinch: Step Into Reading 1 by Tish Rabe, Illustrated by Tom Brannon. (Random House, 2017)  (Link connects to a YouTube reading of this title.)
The Grinch loves to cook.  So Does Cindy-Lou.  They are making a treat.  What next? And for who? (Beginning Reader - Recipe for dog treats – Easy Peasy Pumpkin Dog Treats)

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley. (Simon & Schuster, 2018)
Color Concept book – shows various vegetables with color names. (Includes recipe for “Every Color Soup” – the recipe is not integral to the story but an enrichment addition.)

Read about other books that encourage cooking and extend bonding activities - parent to child, grandparent to grandchild, school involvement and other enrichment activities.
Visit these blog posts or websites to learn about other books that you might enjoy.

Reading Rockets: WETA Public Broadcasting.  (2017) Children's books and activities: Cooking and Food. Retrieved from

Harris, Elizabeth. (n.d.) Our Favorite Kids' Books About Food. Taste of Home.  Retrieved from

Roxas, Andrea. (n.d.) Fun Food from Kids Books. Babble. Retrieved from

Hennessy, Caroline. (2016 Nov 30) Fairytale feast of recipes inspired by children's books. Irish Examiner. Retrieved from  (features a few connections featuring classics and Spiced hot chocolate, Swedish ginger snaps, home baked beans, and roast eggs.  Books are classics but not necessarily fairy tales.)


  1. Of course: One of my favorites --
    Read the book:
    Hear Patricia Polacco read the book:
    Make Thunder Cake:

    Thanks Chris

  2. "How the Cookie Crumbled: The True (and Not-So-True) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie" by Gilbert Ford is a nonfiction picture book that is fantastic. It has the original Toll House recipe.

    1. Beth - thank you this is a great addition. Ford examines whether or not Wakefield's invention was "an accident, a substitution, or a moment of inspiration." Thanks for bringing this book to the blog.