About the Holiday
Established by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Food Day is celebrating its fourth anniversary with 8,000 events across the country, including festivals, film screenings, and even massive apple crunches. Other events will take place on university campuses, in public school systems, in restaurants, at farmers markets, and online. National Food Day aims to shed light on issues of food justice, including access to healthy food and food production that is mindful of the environment, farm animals, farmers, and food workers.
The holiday also aims to raise awareness of nutrition issues and encourage people to “Eat Real,” which means “cutting back on sugary drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein.” Prominent food activists help people discover where they can find food that is healthy and affordable. Another goal is to promote food production that is mindful of the environment, farm animals, and farmers. The efforts of National Food Day continue year round and culminate on October 24. To learn more about the Center for Science in the Public Interest and National Food Day, visit the CSPI website.
Mr. Bear’s World of Food
By Virginie Aracil
Do you have a little one who’s just discovering how many types of food there are? Is your child eager to try anything on their plate, or are they a bit more picky? No matter how your child interacts with food, they’ll be fasciated by Virginie Aracil’s whimsical Mr. Bear’s World of Food, a charming and boldly illustrated menu to tastes and flavors.
Mr. Bear meets readers outside the Bakery, where’s he’s already bought a loaf of bread. “When I take a bite of bread all my senses wake up! What happens is wonderful,” he says. Young children may want to know what these senses are, and Mr. Bear is very accommodating in teaching them. Flaps at his ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and heart reveal the five senses—and a sixth: “feelings.”
Mr. Bear and a sweet muffin then invite kids to explore … well … foods that are Sweet, such as carrots, honey, sweet potatoes, candy, and more. Next, a saltshaker joins Mr. Bear to exhibit some Salty foods, like popcorn, cold cuts, and cod fish. Yum! But, sometimes, foods make your nose crinkle and your mouth pucker. Those would be foods that are Bitter, such as grapefruit or dark chocolate, and Sour, such as lemons, pickles, and others.
Ahhh! Now it’s time for some foods that just taste delicious and fill your tummy with warmth like roast chicken, roast beef, or scalloped potatoes. Feeling too warm now? Kids will enjoy cooling down with Fresh yogurt, cucumber, watermelon, or lettuce. Do you smell something? I smell something—something Pungent! It must be the blue cheese, sauerkraut, century egg, or durians.
Now perhaps it’s time for a dish that’s a little bland—but still tasty! Matzo bread, crackers, tofu, or mozzarella will hit the spot, along with a glass of water, of course! Mr. Bear has some Favorite Foods, including French fries, milk and cookies, and mac and cheese. And, finally, there are foods that are perfect for Sharing, such as pizza, kebabs, paella, and even that loaf of bread Mr. Bear bought at the beginning of this sensory trip!
Now that his tour through the different flavors and tastes is over, Mr. Bear has one last question for readers. In a large-scale, double-page pop-up, Mr. Bear, wearing a chef’s hat and coat, has arranged an array of foods in front of him and wonders, “What is your favorite food?” and “What do you want to eat today?” Kids will love answering and will most likely want to go back to point out their favorite dishes!
In addition to the above-mentioned categories, Mr. Bear also introduces kids to the flavors Umami, Rich, and Smoky. There’s also a page of Seasonings that highlight or enhance a food’s flavor, such as ginger and chili peppers.
Virginie Aracil’s delightful guide to foods and tastes from around the world is well conceived, with large and realistically illustrated images that immediately make each type of food recognizable and appealing to her young audience. Vivid colors and attractively designed pages of board book quality will hold readers’ attention while enticing them to try foods that might be unfamiliar to them. Children who are learning to recognize letters and those who are beginning to read will enjoy testing their new skills with the names of each food, which are presented in a prominent and clear typeface.
Each flavor profile is portrayed in a two-page spread. On the left Mr. Bear is joined by a representative of the category for a short, humorous conversation that will get little ones giggling, while the foods appear on the right. The size of the book is perfect for lap reading or for sharing on the floor or at a table, and an attached baguette-shaped bookmark will hold your place between tasting sessions.
A fun foodie adventure that’s sure to get kids excited about trying new foods and different tastes—and even going to the grocery store or farmers market—Mr. Bear’s World of Food would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves as well as to preschool and kindergarten classrooms, where it would make a terrific introduction to lessons about food and taste-testings. School and public libraries will also find it to be a popular choice among patrons.
Ages 3 – 5
Twirl Books, 2022 | ISBN 979-1036345173 (Board Book)
Discover more about Virginie Aracil, her other Mr. Bear books, and her design work on her website.
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