Jazz for Lunch! by author Jarrett Drapier and illustrator Eugenia Mello

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grace Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

This rhyming picture book is told from the point of view of a nephew whose aunt loves jazz. Auntie Nina frequently attends a jazz club for lunch. She decides to share her experience with her young nephew. Unfortunately, from a child’s perspective the club is too crowded for his size to see anything, it’s hot, people are talking too loud and stepping on his feet and he does not get a meal. His aunt decides to have him visit her the next day for lunch. This duo listens to jazz while cooking and having fun. Jazz artists names and words associated with foods pepper this book making a creative read. The fonts are varied in style, color and size adding to the visual stimulation. Illustrations are vibrant with lots of movement and good times between aunt and nephew as they prepare and play. Could the two eat this humongous lunch alone? Of course not! The club crew visits and keeps the joint jumpin’. When the affair is over, nephew and aunt stand side by side cleaning up. My Book Eyes adores the illustration of Auntie Nina playing the celery! In the front and back matter of this book the following jazz greats are briefly described with food vocabulary weaved into their bios: Harold “Shorty” Baker, Junior Cook, Mary Lou Williams, “Philly Joe” Jones, Art Tatum, Reuben “River” Reeves, “Papa” Jo Jones, Buddy Rich, “Big Sid” Catlett, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Nat King Cole, Jelly Roll Morton, John Coltrane, Art Pepper, Billie Holiday, Dexter Gordon, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith and Nina Simone.

Soul Food Sunday by author Winsome Bingham and illustrator C. G. Esperanza

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: November 16, 2021

When family gathers at granny’s for Sunday dinner, one grandson decides that it is time to learn granny’s cooking rituals. The grandson dons his grandfather’s chef jacket as he stands near a photo of grandpa who had a career in the Army. He gets to work. He realizes that cooking takes much strength yet he perseveres. Granny assigns him to grate cheese, clean greens and prepare sausage, chicken and ribs for the grill. After he completes each task, granny compliments him. The result is a delicious meal shared by many. Illustrations depict brightly colored scenes of a loving family spending time together. A recipe is included.

Carla and the Christmas Cornbread by author Carla Hall and illustrator Cherise Harris

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: November 2, 2021

In this holiday picture book, readers see Carla Hall as a youngster and traditions that her family partakes in to celebrate Christmas. Grandma’s cornbread is delicious. Something special is made for Santa. It is his Christmas cookie. This year Carla can’t resist biting the cookie intended for Santa. Will Santa bypass Carla’s home? My Book Eyes enjoys taking a step back in time when viewing illustrations of hair styles, clothing, home decor and cars from the 70s. A recipe is included.

Apple Cake: A Gratitude by author Dawn Casey and illustrator Genevieve Godbout

Reading Age: 3-5 years

Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Pleased with everyone and everything that contributes to a delicious apple cake, a child thanks the environment, animals, farmers, family and friends. Words are rhyming. Illustrations are done in muted colors which gives the book a peaceful feeling. Characters have varied skin tones. An appropriate picture book to share with this age group anytime but great for the Thanksgiving season. A recipe is included for added activity.

Every Cake Has A Story by author Christina Tosi and illustrator Emily Balsley

Reading Age: 3 – 5 years

Publisher: Dial Books

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Imagine living in a world where everything is a shade of gray. That is life in Sameville where a girl named Sammi lives. The dwellings, the vehicles, the clothes, the food…just gray. Sammi wants change. She goes to sleep one night with something tucked under her pillow. When she wakes up, a variety of hues and pigments brighten her world. She enlists the help of her diverse friends to create a cake made of an array of tastes, textures and colors. Illustrations support the theme of the book. A recipe is included.

Tomatoes for Neela by author Padma Lakshmi and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal

Reading Age: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Neela likes cooking with her mother who learned to cook from Neela’s grandmother. Neela’s mother taught Neela about different types of tomatoes at the farmer’s market. They create tomato sauce, save jars of it to eat during winter and to share with her grandmother when she visits from India. At times a lot of information is shown pictorially with labels attached that will appeal to older and younger readers. The illustrator weaves facts into this children’s book in a visually pleasing way. For example, information about heirloom tomatoes show Neela’s happy face peeking through the vines. History about the origins of tomatoes is also within the story. At the end of this picture book are fun facts about tomatoes, information about farm workers, an author’s note and two recipes.

Jade’s Secret Ingredients: A Recipe for Managing Feelings by author Ashley Finley and illustrator Agia Putri

Reading Age: 2 – 10 years

Publisher: Jj Carson Press LLC

Publication Date: May 15, 2021

Jade likes baking with her Granny. As all bakers know, things don’t always turn out as planned. Granny shares nine special ingredients that are not found in cookbooks. The ingredients are tips about behavior to help Jade get through the baking process. Her tips are applicable to many events and activities that people partake in. Three of her nine secret ingredients are: keep trying, have fun and ask questions. Readers and listeners will often return to this picture book for Granny’s wisdom, I mean secret ingredients. Illustrations are warm and depict a range of emotions.

Blueberry Cake by Sarah Dillard

Reading Age: 3 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Aladdin

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

A cub wants his mother to make blueberry cake. His job is to pick blueberries and bring them home so his mother can prepare the treat. Being energetic, cub runs, plays, chases a butterfly, picks blueberries, drops blueberries, picks flowers and arrives home without the blueberries. His mother cannot make the cake. Cub still has a job to do. He makes a second trip to the blueberries and surprises his mother. Reciprocally, his mother prepares blueberry cake. This picture book is told in 35 words using only 7 different words. Children learning to read will be able to read this book independently in a short amount of time due to repeated words and sequenced illustrations. A note from the author enlightens the audience about her experience with blueberry cake. A recipe included adds a hands on experience to this book.

Kid Chef Bakes for the Holidays: The Kids Cookbook for Year-Round Celebrations by Kristy Richardson

Reading Age: 8 – 12 years

Grade Level: 4 – 6

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Publication Date: July 21. 2020

One of the things that My Book Eyes enjoys about this cookbook is that a list of recipes are displayed under Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and All Year Round in the table of contents. If My Book Eyes was looking for an Easter treat to make, it would be listed under Spring. There are 50 recipes identifying a variety of celebrations, plenty of tips, and information about tools and equipment to make culinary experiences successful.

Every Night Is Pizza Night by author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and illustrator Gianna Ruggiero

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

A finicky eater named Pipo only wants to consume pizza for dinner. She believes pizza is the best food. Pipo visits and assists neighbors while they prepare their treasured dishes. Initially some of the ingredients seem repelling to her however upon tasting the finished products, she discovers that these meals are delicious. Inclusion of foods that are not typically found in childrens’ books increases knowledge of various cultures and foods i.e. tagine, red beans and rice and bibimbap. The more known dumpling is also included. Illustrations show colorful details and add diverse culinary shops for eyes to peruse. Readers may be enticed to try new cuisines after reading this picture book. A pizza recipe is included.