The Austin Chronicle

Summer Reading for Tiny Chefs

By Jessi Cape, May 31, 2012, 11:45am, On the Range

With school out and summer in full swing, the heat is on for new, fun kids’ activities. Books, gardening, and snacks are always a hit, and several new releases will help parents and caretakers entertain the littles this summer.

Cooking with kids requires simple, engaging recipes that please sensitive palates and colorful illustrations with lighthearted storylines help. And because it’s Austin, and because we love good food, finding cookbooks that teach our kiddos the importance of nature’s treats is a big plus.

The Buzz on Honeybees by Cathy Kaemmerlen, illustrated by Kathy Coates (Pelican, $16.99)

The Buzz on Honeybees is geared toward elementary age children and narrated by a very insightful honeybee named Betty. Educational tidbits from beekeepers explain science words like pheromones and cultural tales of tanging and swarming. Perhaps one of the most integral parts of agriculture, the importance of bees and their lifework is told through sweet stories and illustrated by colorful paintings. Cathy Kaemmerlen’s book is perfect for a summer afternoon.

Green Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery, photography by Zac Williams (Gibbs Smith, $14.99, ppg. 61)

The Green Princess Cookbook gives a flowery, earth-friendly spin on summer kid’s food, with simple instructions for tiny aspiring chefs. The small “green cuisine tips” throughout the book take the pressure off parents trying to remind children to eat quality food that comes from nature, not machines. Part of a series of Princess cookbooks probably best suited to children with glittery preferences, this collection of go-to summer food would make a happy addition to the kitchen.

Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook by Nick Katsoris (Dream Day Press/NK Publications/Loukoumi Books, $19.95, ppg. 86)

Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook features celebrity childhood favorites in (very) simple, kid-friendly recipes. A portion of proceeds goes to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and the book starts with a short story of cartooned animals in the kitchen. The 50 featured celebrities are probably more familiar to parents, but the recipes are certainly designed for tiny hands and brand new cooks. From Pain Perdu to Granny’s Coconut Cake, this book might be a great way to spark a love of the kitchen in hungry, bored kiddos during long summer days.

Our Generous Garden and Our Super Garden by Anne Nagro (Dancing Rhinoceros Press, $12.95 and $17.95, ppg. 42 and ppg. 53)

The duo of educational children’s books Our Generous Garden and its follow-up Our Super Garden are full of inspiration for small humans interested in super food and gardens. Illustrated with cool pop-art style photographs of other children getting their hands dirty and learning about gardening, the text is light but informative- great for elementary kids. A cool feature of the second book is the page-long list of fruits and veggies assorted by color, especially helpful when teaching children about healthy rainbow diets. The recipes in the back are nice for post farmer’s market trips or backyard garden harvests, and they allow for kid helpers. Michelle Obama might love Anne Nagro’s mission, and this set is perfect for the classroom, an afterschool program, or even a Saturday afternoon at home.

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