Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Yummy Alphabet Book: Herbs, Spices and Other Natural Flavors

The Yummy Alphabet Book: Herbs, Spices and Other Natural Flavors

Jerry Pallotta
Illustrator:  Leslie Evans 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Charlesbridge Publishing, 1994   ISBN: 978-0881068979

There was a time when Europeans prized their spices above almost everything else. There was a good reason for this. Food back then often tasted awful and spices helped to make it palatable. Herbs too were highly valued both for their culinary and their medicinal uses. In this book we are going to look at some of the things that we use to make what we eat more interesting and delicious.

The author begins by telling us what herbs and spices are. He gives us examples if each group; anise is a spice "that comes from a seed' and that tastes like licorice, and basil is an herb that we use to "season foods." Cinnamon is another spice. It comes from the bark of a tree and we use to flavor rolls, toast, and hot drinks.

Further along in the book the author looks at mustard, maple, and nutmeg. The author tells his readers something interesting about each spice, herb, or flavoring, using humor and questions to engage the reader. The combination of the text and Leslie Evans' wonderfully detailed illustrations works very well, and readers may find that they are beginning to feel hungry as they look at pictures of pizzas, chocolate, soup, candies, and more.

At the back of the book the illustrator provides her audience with further information about the herbs, spices, and flavorings that are described in the book. Look here for an interesting little exercise in search-and-find.

This book can be enjoyed on many levels because it is both an alphabet book, and it is also a book about something that is very dear to all our hearts – food. Readers who enjoy this book might like to look at some of Jerry Pallotta's other alphabet books.