Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen

Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen

Carol Odell
Illustrator:  Anna Pignataro 
For ages 7 to 10
Sleeping Bear Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-1585365180

Have you ever noticed that many classic children’s books are full of delicious sounding food moments? In The Wind in the Willows, Mole and Ratty have a picnic on the riverbank, the description of which makes ones mouth water. In A little Princess, Sara Crewe and her friend Becky are given a magical feast of “rich, hot, savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches and toast and muffins enough for both of them” in their cold attic.

In this delightful book, cookbook author Carol Odell takes excerpts from more than twenty favourite children’s books, and she pairs them with recipes that capture the spirit of the excerpt. For example, there is the story of how Winnie-the-Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit’s doorway. Pooh has just eaten rather a lot of honey, and the only way that he is going to be able to get out of his uncomfortable situation, is to wait until his middle is less plump. To accompany this wonderful story, Carol Odell gives us a recipe for Bear Honey and Nut Spread. It is a simple recipe, but the result is so good that if Pooh were around, he would eat the lot!

Another perfect pairing is the story about how Jo March from Little Women has a great deal of difficulty cooking meals that are edible. She discovers that “something more than energy and goodwill is necessary to make a cook.” To accompany this amusing excerpt, there is a recipe for Jo’s Perfect Potato Casserole. It is a recipe that even Jo would have been able to manage, and the result is a dish that is perfect comfort food.

Combining gems from great literature with recipes is an inspired idea, and children and their families are sure to enjoy dipping into this book to find recipes (with their stories) for every occasion. The recipes are carefully written with easy directions, lists of ingredients, lists of the tools needed, and serving quantities.