February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Inspirations For Baking | SLJ Spotlight

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Nothing is more satisfying (or more delicious) than gathering ingredients and mixing them together to bake and decorate. A nice warm kitchen, delectable smells, icing and sprinkles, and even some math are all part of the recipes for success in these DIY stories.

Baking Day at Grandma'sDenise, Anika. Baking Day at Grandma’s. illus. by Christopher Denise. 32p. Philomel. Aug. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780399242441.

PreS-Gr 1 –Three little bears head through the snow to Grandma’s. There, they bake, dance, drink hot chocolate, package up their baked goodies, and then head home, but the story is really about more than that. Grandma’s love is nearly a tangible thing as reflected in the painterly illustrations, with their warm colors and cozy setting, and the images convey the sheer pleasure she feels in the company of her grandchildren. The cubs are clearly smitten with their grandmother, who towers over them kindheartedly, and with the tradition of baking day. This is no cloying treacle of nostalgia. Instead, the authenticity of the characters shines in a natural and enjoyable way. The text is a wonderful rhyming poem/song with the refrain, “It’s baking day!/It’s baking day!/It’s baking day/at Grandma’s!” And it’s such fun to read aloud. “Old-time music, soft and sweet./Skippy notes and tapping feet./Learning songs that Grandma sings–/when the kitchen timer rings!” A recipe for Grandma Rosie’s Chocolate Cake is included. This gentle story will leave children feeling warm and fuzzy. It’s perfect for individual sharing, storytime, baking time, and pretty much any time.–Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

florenceFlorence, Tyler. Tyler Makes a Birthday Cake! illus. by Craig Frazier. 40p. HarperCollins/Harper. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062047601.

PreS-Gr 2 –Having made pancakes and then spaghetti, Tyler and his dog are now ready to make a cake for Tofu’s special day—but dogs can’t eat cake. When the baker who is helping Tyler reminds him that cake for humans is too rich for canines, Tyler is discouraged, but the man comes up with a wonderful substitute: a special cake just for Tofu. The book ends with recipes for two cakes: a carrot cake for humans and a cake with appropriate ingredients for dogs that is shaped like a bone for Tofu. As in the previous two books, Tyler learns where the ingredients come from, as text and illustrations imagine him going with the baker to gather everything and then describe the steps needed to mix all of them together to produce the cake. The large pictures are done with pen and ink, and the digitally colored characters, outlined in blue, are easy to see, making this a book that could be used in storytime along with an actual cake-making project or at home with an adult. Combining a story and a cooking lesson is a novel approach, and it works well for this author and Food Network chef.–Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

mayMay, Eleanor. Albert the Muffin-Maker. illus. by Deborah Melmon. 32p. (Mouse Math). Kane Pr. 2014. lib. ed. $22.60. ISBN 9781575656311; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781575656328; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9781575656335. LC 2013037986.

PreS-Gr 1 –An adorable mouse and his sister deliver a lesson about ordinal numbers as they bake oatmeal muffins. Oddly, the book excludes specific measurements in the recipe that Albert uses, but the ordinal-number theme is thoughtfully constructed, and each ordinal (e.g., 11th, 12th) is presented in bold and with a matching visual icon. At the end of the book, additional follow-up discussion questions and a recipe for playdough cookies (this time with measurements) provide useful extension activities. Although the theme of ordinal numbers is prominent, young readers will not feel overly instructed; Melmon’s endearing mice, created with soft watercolor and pencil, are enough to carry the story.–Nora Clancy, Teachers College Community School, New York City

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