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.

Amara’s Farm by author JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrator Samara Hardy

Reading Age: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: 1-2

Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company

Publication Date: September 1, 2021

Amara needs a pumpkin to share with her friends at a potluck. What does a pumpkin look like? Readers learn about shape, color, size, textures and inside and outside contents of a pumpkin to make it easily distinguishable from other fruits and vegetables. The problem? On her farm, Amara has fruits and vegetables that share some attributes of pumpkins. Will she find a pumpkin in time for the potluck? At the feast, viewers are asked to find foods mentioned throughout the book.This is a wonderful picture book that educates youngsters about differences between a variety of fruits and vegetables. My Book Eyes enjoyed seeing edibles that are not often mentioned in books such as okra, kumquat, persimmon, cauliflower, fig, and kiwi. Also, illustrations include warm autumn colors and diverse characters at the potluck. A recipe is included. Many projects could be generated from this book.

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.

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.

Mmmmm! Soup Joumou! by author Carline Smothers and illustrator Fuuji Takashi

Reading Age: baby – 10 years

Grade Level: 0 to grade 5

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition

Publication Date: June 5, 2017

In this picture book, a young girl partakes in the celebration of Haiti’s Independence Day by shopping with her family for soup joumou ingredients then watching the preparation of the soup. She learns about the soup’s significance. The family enjoys the meal. The colors and artwork in this book are warm and attractive. All details are easily discernible. The text is enough information for a young child. For an older child, extra research about Haiti’s Independence Day as well as varied recipes for soup joumou would increase knowledge about this important day in history.

MasterChef Junior Bakes!: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Bakers: A Baking Book by MasterChef Junior

Reading Level: 7 – 9 years

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Publication Date: October 8, 2019

This cookbook features photographs and tips from the contestants on the MasterChef television show. These youngsters range in age from 8 years to 13 years. The foods are delectable and are easy to more complex to prepare. In addition to baked goods this cookbook includes puddings, custards and ice creams. A getting prepared section enlightens young chefs about how to bake safely and cleanly. Additionally home challenges and science of baking are included.

Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale by author Marjuan Canady and illustrator Nabeeh Bilal

Reading Level: 3 – 7 years

Publisher: Sepia Works, LLC

Publication Date: November 18, 2013

A young boy named Winston loves eating callaloo which is a popular Caribbean meal. His aunt asks him to go to the store to buy a bush that she needs to make more callaloo. On his way, Winston stops to buy not one but two frozen treats and eats them. He boards a train and suddenly finds that he is no longer in New York but on the beautiful island of Tobago. He decides to get some crabs. Winston encounters several Caribbean folklore creatures that are somewhat creepy and mysterious after he collects the crabs and eventually releases them. He learns not to take more than he needs. This story is entertaining and teaches a lesson about greed. Unfamiliar words are bold throughout the text. There is a glossary in the back of the book. My Book Eyes enjoyed learning about the Caribbean mythical creatures. Illustrations match the text and add gloom, darkness and slight scare when needed but nothing that a young child couldn’t handle. This picture book ends happily with Winston safe at home. It can be read anytime of the year however, it would be a great read at a Halloween party by a storyteller who knows how to tell a spooky story.