April 25 – National Zucchini Bread Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday seems to anticipate the prolific zucchini and yellow squash yields of summer gardens. Of course, they’re delicious too—giving a snap of flavor to side dishes, salads, pastas, and even breads—but, really, how do you keep up with the harvest? Today’s holiday offers a suggestion. And today’s book offers a humorous and creative way to share the bounty. Even if we can’t get together in person right now, we can always enjoy a great book and the scrumptious recipe at the end of this post!

Zora’s Zucchini

Written by Katherine Pryor | Illustrated by Anna Raff

 

Summer vacation was only three days old, but already Zora was bored. She was tired of riding her bike aimlessly around the neighborhood. But this time when she rode through town, she noticed a Free Zucchini sign in the window of the hardware store. She liked that the plant’s name began with a Z like her name, so she loaded up her basket and went home.

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Copyright Anna Raff, 2015, courtesy of annaraff.com and Readers to Eaters.

Zora showed her dad her new plants. As she carefully dug in the garden and settled them in, her dad said “‘That’s going to be a lot of zucchini.’” “‘We’ll eat it!’ Zora promised.” All June and July, Zora tended her garden, cheering “every time she saw a yellow-orange zucchini blossom.” When Zora saw her first zucchini, she picked it and ran inside to show her family. Soon, they were enjoying zucchini for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There was zucchini bread, zucchini soup, and grilled zucchini. “By the first day of August, Zora’s garden was a jungle of prickly, tickly, bushy, blossomy plants,” and each one “was covered in zucchini. There was no way her family could eat it all.”

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Copyright Anna Raff, 2015, courtesy of annaraff.com and Readers to Eaters.

When Zora peeked into her neighbor’s yard, she noticed there was no zucchini in her garden—but plenty of tomatoes. She asked Mrs. Thompson if she’d like to trade. Mrs. Thompson was delighted to swap a bushel of tomatoes for a bushel of zucchini. But Zora’s zucchini kept on coming. “‘This is crazy,’ Zora said.” She filled her bicycle basket and rode through the neighborhood, giving them all away. But the day after that, more zucchini was ripe for picking. Then Zora had an idea and got her family involved. “Her brother painted the signs. Her parents printed the fliers. Zora and her sister posted them all over the neighborhood.”

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Copyright Anna Raff, 2015, courtesy of annaraff.com and Readers to Eaters.

On Saturday, Zora stood next to her homemade stand that sported a sign that read: “Take a Veggie, Leave a Veggie” with an added entreaty that said “Or at least please take some zucchini.” As sun rose in the sky, though, no one had visited her stand. But then Mrs. Rivera came by with a bowl of raspberries, Mr. Peterson brought potatoes, and others traded carrots, green beans, and peppers as well as apricots, plums, and cherries. “Zora traded and traded until all her zucchini was gone.”

But Zora’s Garden Swap stand had done much more than share fruits and vegetables. As she looked around at all of the people laughing, talking, and nibbling, she realized that “her zucchini garden had brought so many people together.” She couldn’t wait for next year’s garden!

Back matter includes a note about gardening and the amount of food from a prolific garden that can go to waste. It also includes ideas for donating, preserving, and sharing excess harvests.

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Copyright Anna Raff, 2015, courtesy of annaraff.com and Readers to Eaters.

Katherine Pryor’s easy-going storytelling and gentle humor will charm kids with its realistic portrayals of the excitement that every growth spurt, bud, and blossom in a garden creates. As the zucchini keeps coming, Zora’s family’s willingness to keep trying new recipes is heartening, and their help in making her Garden Swap Stand a success shows welcome family unity and support. Zora’s outreach, first to one neighbor, then to individuals throughout her neighborhood, and finally through her stand, encourages creative problem-solving. As Zora realizes that her garden has brought many people together, readers will also embrace the ideas of camaraderie and sharing and see that they too can foster such friendship in their school and community. For today’s food-savvy and socially conscious kids, Pryor’s addressing the issue of food waste and ways to share our bounty with others will appeal to and resonate with children.

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Copyright Anna Raff, 2015, courtesy of annaraff.com and Readers to Eaters.

Anna Raff’s cheery illustrations sparkle with the enthusiasm of children who go all in on a new interest. Kids will love seeing the zucchini plants grow from tiny seedlings to leafy giants that produce a flood of zucchini. Raff clearly shows Zora’s disbelief in her inexhaustible supply of squash and puzzlement as to what to do with it all, letting readers join in on her ever-growing problem. As Zora tries one solution after another and then hits on an idea, suspense grows, helped along with Raff’s visual clues in the signs and fliers her family makes. When the neighbors come together, smiling and chatting, at Zora’s stand, readers can see what a close-knit community can accomplish.

Sure to inspire a child’s interest in gardening and community sharing, Zora’s Zucchini, an award-winning book, is a fantastic addition to home, classroom, and public library shelves. The book also makes a fun pairing with picnics and visits to farmers markets and food festivals.

Ages 4 – 10

Eaters to Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0983661573 (Hardcover) | ISBN 978-0998436616 (Paperback, 2017)

Discover more about Katherine Pryor and her books on her website.

To learn more about Anna Raff, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Zucchini Bread Day Activity

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Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread from Creme de la Crumb

 

If you have zucchini to spare, you’ll love this delicious zucchini bread from Creme de la Crumb that’s sweet and moist and flavored with the homey taste of cinnamon! To find this scrumptious recipe and lots more, visit Creme de la Crumb!

Creme de la Crumb’s Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread

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You can find Zora’s Zucchini at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

April 15 – It’s National Garden Month

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About the Holiday

In 1987 National Garden Week sprouted on the calendar to celebrate the beginning of spring and the growing season. But a week just isn’t enough to enjoy all the fun and excitement (and delicious food and glorious flowers) of gardening. In 2002, the National Gardening Association extended the holiday to encompass the full month of April. A perfect activity for the whole family gardening is a wonderful way to teach kids about the growth cycle, pollinators, nutrition, and more! If young plants or seeds are available in you area, creating a garden in your yard or even indoors makes a fun and educational addition to homeschool lessons with delicious rewards to come. Today’s book takes a look at an age-old question to whet your appetite for summer’s bounty.

By Jakki Licare

Fruit Bowl

By Mark Hoffmann

A mother and her child are back from the grocery store. Mom asks her child to put away all of the fruit and veggies. The child greets the fruit and asks how they are doing. “Peachy keen,” Peach replies. “Full of zest,” says Lemon. But Strawberry complains, “I was jammed in that bag.” The fruit all get into the bowl. Apple, peach, banana, lemon, orange, pear, strawberry, grapes, lime, blueberry, and…tomato. The child stops and tells the tomato he doesn’t belong in the fruit bowl. He is a vegetable and should be in the fridge. Tomato tells them he is fruit, but they all tell him he has to leave. “You’ll have to split,” Banana says. 

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Copyright Mark Hoffmann, 2018, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

The child directs Tomato to the fridge, telling him he’ll go bad if he doesn’t cool it. Sitting on the edge of the crisper drawer, Tomato tells everyone he doesn’t belong in the fridge and he can prove it. He pulls out a book and begins to explain that all fruit start out as flowers. Banana remembers, “My flower was the best of the bunch.” The child asks if all vegetables are fruit since they come from flowering plants too. Tomato explains that vegetables come from different parts of the plant: leaves, stems, petals, and roots. Tomato then shows an x-ray of himself. The x-ray clearly shows his seeds on the inside. Potato exclaims, “I can’t believe my eyes!”

The child agrees that maybe he is a fruit, but tomatoes aren’t sweet like other fruit. Tomato is indignant and points out that cranberries and grapefruit aren’t sweet. The child wonders if anyone can settle this debate for them. Blueberry mentions that there is an old legend about Old Man Produce who is “hidden in this very kitchen.” The fruits all climb out of the bowl to seek out this sage.

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Copyright Mark Hoffmann, 2018, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

In the corner of the counter, the fruits and vegetables find a very wrinkled raisin. Old Man Produce welcomes them with mystical knowledge about what they seek. The child asks him if a tomato is really a fruit. “Well that is the question of all questions. If the tomato is not a fruit. Is he not delicious?” Old Man Produce talks on for a long time until Tomato interrupts him with a curt “Yes or No?”

Finally, Old Man Produce confirms that tomato is a fruit. The child agrees that tomato should go in the bowl then. Lemon and Blueberry welcome him warmly. The child asks, “Are there any other vegetables that are fruits in disguise?” Tomato says, “Funny you should ask.” Suddenly, Pepper, Snap Pea, Eggplant, Pickle, Avocado, String Bean, and Yellow Squash all climb into the bowl too. The child agrees they all can stay, and the fruits all snuggle in happily. The vegetables in the fridge wish they had a bowl instead of a drawer. Tomato replies, “Those veggies are just greens with envy.”

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Copyright Mark Hoffmann, 2018, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

In this playful tale told entirely through dialogue balloons, Mark Hoffmann explains to young readers what makes a fruit a fruit. He introduces facts like: all fruits start off as flowers and carry seeds as well. Hoffmann also explains that vegetables come from other parts of the plants such as roots, petals, stems, and leaves. His wonderful and silly vegetable and fruit puns keep young children interested and laughing. Hoffmann also shows a huge array of fruits and vegetables which hopefully will make our more tentative eaters curious. 

Hoffmann’s bold illustrations fill each page with a colorful variety of fruit and vegetables that are a treat for the eyes. The vivid personalities of the fruit are easily conveyed through the artful and simplistic faces. Children will sympathize with Tomato when he sadly walks away from the fruit bowl in the beginning and then cheer along with the other fruit when, with a big smile, he climbs into the fruit bowl at the end.  Fun characters, such as Old Man Produce – a wrinkly raisin with a cane that’s a take off on wise wizards in books and movies – are sure to make children giggle throughout the story.

Flower Bowl is an educational and entertaining read for story times about nutrition, gardening, or plants and a wonderful addition to any classroom or home, or public library. 

Ages 3 – 7

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 9781524719937

Discover more about Mark Hoffmann, his books, and his art on his website.

National Garden Month Activity

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Make your Own Fruit Bowl

 

Do your fruit need a home? Try this craft and make a place for all your fruit to hang out together (even tomato!)

Supplies

  • Modge Podge
  • Balloon
  • Plastic cup
  • 2 sheets of 12×12 cardstock
  • Foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Scrap Paper

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Directions

  1. Cut sheets of card stock into 1-inch strips
  2. Blow up balloon to the size of the bowl you wish
  3. Before gluing be sure to lay down scrap paper on your work surface. This is a messy project! 
  4. Rest balloon on plastic cup
  5. Cover the top and sides of balloon in Modge Podge
  6. Take a strip of paper and coat the bottom side of the paper with Modge Podge. This is a great activity for younger children to help with.
  7. Lay strip along the balloon. Coat the top of the strip until it can lay smoothly along the balloon. The ends of the strips will stick up a bit and that is okay. Laying down the strips can be tricky and should probably be done by older children or adults.
  8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 until half of the balloon is covered. You can make your bowl shallow or deep depending on how much of the balloon you cover.
  9. Go over all the strips with another layer of Modge Podge
  10. Let balloon and strips rest in a safe place over night
  11. Next pop or cut balloon
  12. Cut edges off to even out bowl

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You can find Fruit Bowl at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 24 – National Food Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 2011 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Food Day aims to raise awareness of nutrition issues and encourage people to “Eat Real.” Eating real 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 with special events.

I received a copy of Now You Know What You Eat from Orchard Books for review consideration. All opinions are my own. I’m excited to be teaming with Orchard Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Now You Know What You Eat: Pictures and Answers for the Curious Mind

By Valorie Fisher

 

As you lick an ice cream cone, dip your spoon into a bowl of macaroni and cheese, or crunch on a pickle, do you ever think about all of the ingredients that go into it or where those ingredients come from? That’s the fascinating premise behind Now You Know What You Eat. Valorie Fisher presents this information in bright graphic form with an inviting vintage touch. Her clearly marked pages make connections that even the youngest readers can follow.

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Copyright Valorie Fisher, 2019, courtesy of Orchard Books.

First up is that delicious summer treat—the ice cream cone. For kids this may look like cone + vanilla ice cream, but that pointy (or flat bottom) cup is made up of “flour + sugar + eggs + butter.” And the scoop? That’s made from “cream + milk + sugar + eggs + vanilla extract.” But where does all that stuff come from, a curious kid may wonder. Fisher has that covered too. Running along the bottom of the page is a pictorial which shows that eggs come from a chicken, flour comes from wheat, milk, cream, and butter come from a cow, sugar comes from sugarcane, and vanilla extract comes from the vanilla orchid.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-now-you-know-what-you-eat-maple-syrup

Copyright Valorie Fisher, 2019, courtesy of Orchard Books.

Children will be amazed to see what a collage the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is and where the ground cinnamon that gives them their spice and the baking soda that helps the dough rise come from. There’s even a little tutorial on how the cookies are made once the dough is mixed. That seemingly simple peanut butter sandwich is another work of art. Among other things, kids learn how jelly is thickened, the difference between whole wheat bread and white bread, and the role of yeast in bread making. They may also find it interesting that the peanut, despite its name, is not a nut at all, but a legume.

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Copyright Valorie Fisher, 2019, courtesy of Orchard Books.

We all know mac ‘n’ cheese is scrumptious comfort food, but there’s a lot more to it than that—and readers will discover some surprising ingredients that go into the making of cheese. A short primer on macaroni dishes up some favorite shapes. Want to know how chocolate’s made? There’s a two-page spread for that too. From the cacao pod to the oven to the mold and every step in between, children discover how this favorite comes to be as well as the fact that “dark chocolate = milk chocolate – milk” and “white chocolate = milk chocolate – cocoa mass. The makings of maple syrup, dill pickles, lemonade, yogurt, vegetable soup, pizza, honey, and potato chips are also explored. A few ingredients, like milk, eggs, corn, and apples, are given an entire page to explain how it is grown or produced.

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Copyright Valorie Fisher, 2019, courtesy of Orchard Books.

Valorie Fisher combines symbols, such as addition and subtraction signs, brackets, and equal signs to show how separate ingredients are combined to become a favorite food. She also includes easy-to-understand text that explains more about each ingredient or finished dish and where base ingredients come from and/or how they are grown. Fisher also talks about the variety of milk-producing animals, kinds of corn, and types of apples and citrus fruits around the world. Noteworthy facts, such as how much milk one cow produces each week and that a person could stand on an egg without cracking it, will captivate kids.

Graphics-loving kids will immediately gravitate toward Fisher’s pages that use readily recognizable, but generic, images to deconstruct food into its individual parts. Presented on alternating colored squares, strips and blocks, the steps are easy to follow. Her vibrant choices highlight the food and draw readers in to linger over each page and its absorbing content. Illustrated pages also contain a guide to the makeup of a healthy plate; a chart outlining the minerals and vitamins in the foods presented and how they help the body; and a glossary.

Now You Know What You Eat: Pictures and Answers for the Curious Mind will entice readers of all ages to dig deeper into learning what goes into the food they eat and is an excellent accompaniment to cookbooks and nutrition guides at home and in school and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Orchard Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1338215465

To learn more about Valorie Fisher, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Now You Know What You Eat Giveaway

I’m happy to be partnering with Orchard Books, Scholastic, Inc. in a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Now You Know What You Eat, by Valorie Fisher

There are two ways to be entered to win:

  • Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet one of my giveaway tweets.
  • Leave a comment on this blog post
  • Bonus: Reply with favorite food for extra entry

This giveaway is open from October 25 through October 31 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on November 1.

Giveaways open to US addresses only | Prizing provided by Scholastic, Inc.

National Food Day Activity

CPB - Noodle Puzzle

Noodle on This! Puzzle

 

Pasta is a perennial favorite! Help these noodles get to the right plate, bowl, or pot in this printable Noodle on This puzzle that’s as wiggly as a wet noodle!

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You can find Now You Know What You Eat: Pictures and Answers for the Curious Mind at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review