Tag Archives: Food

Pasta – Felice Arena. Illustrated by Beatrice Cerocchi.


Affirm Press

28 March 2023
RRP: $19.99
ISBN: 9781922848604

I do wish you could see how tricky this lovely cover is, with its embossed shiny strands of spaghetti twirling with temptation. There would be very few kiddos who don’t both know and enjoy eating pasta and many of them will already know a few of the different types. Spaghetti, macaroni, lasagne, fettucine spring to mind immediately. But if you have known Italians, as The Kid and I have done, you will know that these are just the tip of the steaming bowl of delicious goodness and so many of the pasta names are just glorious good fun to say. Clever Felice Arena has put them together in a joyous rhyming romp through the menu, to which all children will love to bounce along.

I have not previously seen Beatrice Cerocchio’s illustrative work but her style is well suited to this rambunctious rumbustification with its bold colours, adroit details and expressive characters – and those endpapers!! Just delightful!

If you have a focus on food itself or perhaps looking at cultural differences, (or how these have been absorbed to become a vital part of mainstream Australia) this would be a great addition to your program. But like most great picture books, it is just pure good fun as well and I can easily envisage a read-aloud session that leads to some pasta art or some menu creations for a classroom restaurant or some crazy spelling lists. I do feel you should practise your Italian accent for a read-aloud session as the kiddos will delight in joining in with you, as well as providing the emphases in all the appropriate places!

Those of us of a certain age will remember a childhood in a typical WASP home sans pasta – I know I didn’t ‘discover’ spaghetti bolognese until the very early 70s (thanks to my big brother!). How marvellous that now we have this entire delicious smorgasbord of pasta varieties and dishes to play with as a matter of course!

Let me finish with a slightly amusing story on that note. Our Italian friend came to Australia in 1971, and he, and the friend he made on the ship, arrived in Sydney and set forth to find somewhere to eat on their first day. Neither of these two Italian men (almost still boys) spoke a single word of English, but found a cafe and recognised the word ‘spaghetti’ on the menu, so promptly ordered that. You can imagine their complete bewilderment (and horror actually) when plates of toast and tinned spaghetti arrived at their table. I did laugh a lot at the recount of this experience but really, thank heavens we’ve moved on from there! (also – where would our sense of pasta humour be without the famous Spaghetti Harvest Hoax?)

Buon Appetito! Enjoy your fill of Pasta – I highly recommend it to your readers from around Prep upwards. Ciao!

Plume [#2]: Global Nibbler – Tania McCartney


May 2022

Hardie Grant, Hardie Grant Explore, RRP $26.99

ISBN: 9781741177671

My friends are all very aware of my penchant for penguins. Surely, they are one of the cutest creatures in the world? Although, if you have ever participated in the penguin spotting research via live stream, you will appreciate that the little darlings are very hard to distinguish one from another…but now there’s Plume.  And there can be absolutely no doubt at all that Plume is most charming and delightful penguin ever to waddle the pages of a book.

Tania McCartney has a genius for creating picture books that not only engage young readers with their narrative and exquisite illustrations but which also teach, whether about geography or history, people, or places. To my mind she has an absolute gift for her unique style of ‘travelogue’ books and children of my acquaintance return to these over and over, and with Plume she takes this virtual travelling experience to a whole new fun and entertaining level.

Plume made his first appearance as a global traveller in the first book World Explorer and readers fell in love with this quirky little citizen of Antarctica, who is just a bit different to all the other penguins with his love of very non-PC (Penguin Culture) activities such as sky-diving, knitting and cooking. It is Plume’s great interest in cooking that sparks his newest adventure.

The little gourmet with the distinctive yellow feather has tried in vain to interest his fellow penguins in trying out new taste sensations as he savours his latest online purchases gathered from around the globe. Seemingly, his mates are far too set in their plain fishy ways so Plume conceives of an idea to tempt them.

Enlisting the assistance of the lovely Ava, from Albatross Express, after her super suggestion that he should host cooking lessons, Plume takes off for a round-the-world gastronomic experience that is bound to set your tastebuds tingling. From Japan to Italy, Iran to Mexico, Morocco to Sweden, Plume and Ava sample and savour tastes and treats. Some of these your little readers will know such as tacos or kebabs but others will be new words and dishes to roll around their tongues: torshi, kanelbulle, fika, meskouta or flautas are just a few.

As always, Tania’s illustrations are simply divine, and her characters completely charming, especially their facial expressions. Throughout her fun with wordplay, onomatopoeia and descriptive language will provide much rich and fruitful discussion. And – oh my goodness! – the gorgeous endpapers, frontispiece and the scrumptious textured cover elevate this to a work of real art.

I cannot wait to share this with some hungry little readers and would love to follow it up with a virtual trip around the world, concluding with a feast – of course!

This will easily be incorporated into a teaching program focused on geography or cultural awareness but makes for such a superb personal reading time share as well. I would highly recommend anyone to add Plume to their collection for readers as young as Prep right up to later primary, and I am definitely looking forward to Plume’s next adventure.

Bon appetit!

Stay tuned for Plume: Festival Seeker, out 5 October 2022 in Australia/New Zealand.

The ABC Book of Food –  Helen Martin/Judith Simpson. Illustrated by Cheryl Orsini




  • ISBN:9780733334269
  • ISBN 10: 0733334261
  • Imprint: ABC Books – AU
  • On Sale: 01/03/2016
  • List Price: 99 AUD

Yes this was published last year and no, I hadn’t lost it! But for some reason it only came to me recently. Since today I’ve already looked at butterflies and seeds I thought it might just complete the day’s reviewing.

An informative and colourful picture book which takes a look at our food, where it comes from, how it’s processed, where it’s sold and how we might eat it.  Small children will identify with aspects like picnics and farmers’ markets and shops that sell just one kind of food (with a little puzzle contained in the illustrations). It even mentions the sorts of foods that some people can’t eat e.g. dairy or nuts.

All in all it’s a pretty useful book that will engage young readers and encourage discussions about healthy food and eating which is always a positive.

Recommended for readers from around 3 years to 7 years.

The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth – Hollie Hughes/Leigh Hodgkinson



Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781408862780

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date: August 2016

RRP $14.99

This hilarious rhyming book is just pure good fun for little readers. The huge hairy mammoth has a ‘ridiculously large appetite’ and his great friend the Bug is beginning to despair of ever finding the snack that will finally satisfy him. Clever little Bug comes up with the perfect plan to solve the problem.

Vibrantly coloured illustrations with some wonderful use of different fonts and text placements make this a visual delight for a little human.

This is Hollie Hughes’ debut picture book and I foresee that we can look forward to more fun from this writer. Stay tuned for a review that features illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson in a book which she also wrote.

Highly recommended particularly as a read aloud for Preps upwards.