Grazie! for this warm celebration.

NONNA'S BIRTHDAY SURPRISE

LIDIA'S FAMILY KITCHEN

The chef and television personality makes another charming foray into family and food history (Nonna Tell Me a Story, 2010).

Nonni Lidia welcomes her five grandchildren into her kitchen to discover that they want to make dinner for their great-grandmother Nonna, who is 92. Lidia tells them about growing up in Istria in Italy, where her family grew or raised much of their food, and the joys of eating by season. At the local farmers’ market, Nonni Lidia gives each child some money and tells them to buy what seems good to them. With the lovingly described tomatoes, basil, cheese and asparagus the children buy, they come home to make pasta primavera. There is something of an overuse of the word “special,” and exclamation points are sprinkled about with abandon. Still, Lidia’s exhortations about seasonal, fresh and healthful eating and her celebration of the sensuous joys of touching, tasting and experiencing food are evocative and winning. The 18 recipes at the back are excellent; they are aimed at adults and accompanied by a sensible list of what kids can do to assist in preparing each one. Graef’s illustrations are rosy, and the people, animals and foodstuffs are depicted with plump, round edges; all are washed in the golden light of memory.

Grazie! for this warm celebration. (Picture book/cookbook. 6-10, adult)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4655-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season.

HOW WINSTON DELIVERED CHRISTMAS

Neither snow nor rain nor mountains of yummy cheese stay the carrier of a letter to Santa.

So carelessly does 8-year-old Oliver stuff his very late letter to Santa into the mailbox that it falls out behind his back—leaving Winston, a “small, grubby white mouse” with an outsized heart, determined to deliver it personally though he has no idea where to go. Smith presents Winston’s Christmas Eve trek in 24 minichapters, each assigned a December “day” and all closing with both twists or cliffhangers and instructions (mostly verbal, unfortunately) for one or more holiday-themed recipes or craft projects. Though he veers occasionally into preciosity (Winston “tried to ignore the grumbling, rumbling noises coming from his tummy”), he also infuses his holiday tale with worthy values. Occasional snowy scenes have an Edwardian look appropriate to the general tone, with a white default in place but a few dark-skinned figures in view. Less-crafty children will struggle with the scantly illustrated projects, which run from paper snowflakes to clothespin dolls and Christmas crackers with or without “snaps,” but lyrics to chestnuts like “The 12 Days of Christmas” (and “Jingle Bells,” which is not a Christmas song, but never mind) at the end invite everyone to sing along.

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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