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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Food is a relatable topic that we often encounter in picture books -- sometimes it's viewed practically, other times in a silly way, or both. There are plenty more that could be included here, but these are some of our favorites:

 

Pancakes Pancakes! is an Eric Carle book I didn't encounter until I was an adult, but I enjoyed it and the kids did too. It takes a fairly "practical" look at how pancakes are made. If you can suspend enough disbelief to allow that a boy named Jack and his mother just happened to be out of every single pancake ingredient, then it makes sense that before he can have pancakes for breakfast, Jack must take wheat to the mill to be ground into flour, milk the cow, churn some butter, fetch an egg, etc. Once he collects everything, his mother walks him through the process of combining the ingredients and cooking his first pancake. It usually succeeds in making me feel hungry by the end!

 

I'll admit, Green Eggs and Ham is not one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, but it's a classic, and I'm pretty sure all the kids I've read it to have enjoyed it. Perhaps the repetition has gotten to me over the years. But I can appreciate that it encourages kids to try something before outrightly declaring that they do not like it. Either that or it encourages pestering someone to the point of insanity if they won't do what you want them to do -- decide for yourself.

 

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett and Ronald Barrett, is one of my favorite "tall tale" picture books ever. It's the legend of a town called Chewandswallow, where food falls from the sky. This allows for endless possibilities of weird weather, and also some interesting problems and other effects that would go along with this kind of phenomenon. Eventually, the food-weather gets weirder and larger, making life unsustainable for the brave inhabitants, and they are forced to flee. This is the best kind of picture book because the general idea can spur your creativity long after reading it -- what other kinds of food can we imagine falling from the sky? And what kinds of possibilities and problems would that lead to?

 

The Seven Silly Eaters is a clever story written in polished rhyme by Mary Ann Hoberman, which tells the story of a growing family of picky eaters -- each child has one particular food that they have to eat in a certain way in order to be happy. Fortunately, it's silly enough that it's easy to overlook real-world consequences of such things and to enjoy the way that the family and story both grow -- until finally, when their long-suffering mother is worn to the bone, the children accidentally invent a dish that makes life a whole lot easier for all of them. Full review here.

 

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World takes a similar approach to Pancakes Pancakes! above, in the sense that all ingredients for the dish in question must be acquired from their sources, but this time it's done in a much more fantastical way. This book is written from a second-person point of view, which is fairly rare (the only other in this style that comes to mind at the moment is How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World which is more educational but a bit fantastical too). In this book, you are instructed to go to the market to get ingredients for your pie, but if the market is closed, then you must jet off to Sri Lanka (to get cinnamon from the bark of a kurundu tree), England, Italy, Vermont, etc. to find only the best ingredients to make into an apple pie. It's a fun read, and at the very end there is a recipe to make your own apple pie.

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