January 2018 Tween Reads

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Here’s another monthly review of some tween reads.  Each month I give a short summary of what my 9 and 11-year-olds have been reading.  These are the books that they read outside of school for leisure, not the books that they are required to read as part of their school curriculum.  If you are looking for new books for your own tweens to read, hopefully you can get some suggestions here.


The Complete Guide to Greek Myths by Heather Dakota
Published by:
  Sandy Creek, 2015
Pages: 144
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Price: starting at $7.62 used
Rating: 4/5 stars

My son’s teacher has been focusing on non-fiction reading and he was required to read non-fiction books for his daily reading homework.  He chose The Complete Guide to Greek Myths after reading Rick Riordan’s books (see below) and has become an expert on all things Greek mythology.  This book is a collection of many of the Greek Myths.


Creatures That Glow by Anita Ganeri
Published by: ABRAMS, September 1995
Pages: 30
Price: $19.95
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 3/5 stars

This is another non-fiction book that my son borrowed from his classroom library for his non-fiction reading homework. This book describes different creatures that glow-in-the-dark with illustrations.  It includes everything from fireflies to angler fish.  My son found this book informative but, “it wasn’t the best book ever.”


Dog Man and Cat Kid by Dav Pilkey
Published by: Graphix, December 2017
Pages: 256
Price: $9.99
Source: borrowed from the library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the fourth and newly released book in the Dog Man series.  This graphic novel series is written by Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants.  My son enjoyed this book enough that he read it twice.  In this bookDog Man has a new side kick, Cat Kid.  The two must help find a missing movie star.


Flora and Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by: K.G. Campbell
Published by: Candlewick Press, September 2013
Pages: 233
Price: $6.99
Source: borrowed from school library
Rating: 3/5 stars

When Flora’s neighbor runs over a squirrel with her vacuum cleaner he develops superpowers.  Flora names him Ulysses, after the vacuum cleaner.  The two form an unlikely friendship and when Flora’s mom tries to kill Ulysses she must save him.  This book was the most recent selection for the school book club that my son attends.   Although it is a 2014 Newbery Medal winner, my son and the other book club members weren’t big fans of this book.


Inside the Whale and Other Animals by Ted Dewan
Published by:  DoubleDay Books for Young Readers, May 1992
Pages: 48
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Price: from $4.90 used
Rating: 4/5 stars

This was another non-fiction book that my son read. He enjoyed reading and learning about the inner organs of various animals.  He liked, “seeing the illustrations of the insides of the animals that we can’t usually see.”


The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)  by Rick Riordan
Published by:  Disney Hyperion Books, March 2006 (first published June 2005)
Pages: 375 pages
Price: $7.99
Source:  own the book
Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  12-year-old Percy Jackson discovers that he is a demi-god and is sent to Camp Half Blood.  Percy eventually ends up on a quest with Annabeth and Grover to find Zeus’ stolen lightening bolts and prevent a war between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.  My son received The Lightning Thief  as a present and began reading this book after we had started reading The Lost Hero together (see below).  There are five books in this series and he has already started reading book two!  I also just discovered that this book was made into a movie, which we will hopefully watch soon!

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan
Published by:  Disney-Hyperion Books, October 2010
Pages: 557
Price: $9.99
Source:  own the book
Rating:  4/5 stars

For the past several months my son and I have been reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan and finally finished it.  This is the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series, a spin-off of Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  In this book Jason, Leo and Piper are brought together on a quest to save Hera from Gaea’s potential awakening.  The book is told from the various points of view of the three main characters.  These books are thick with small print. However, Rioradan is a great writer and these stories suck the reader right in.  The book is filled with humor and lots of adventure.  Since reading Riordan’s books, my son has become very interested in Greek Mythology and has been reading non-fiction books about the Greek Gods.



Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Published by: Feiwel & Friends, March 2017
Pages: 336
Price: $16.99
Source:   borrowed from the library
Rating: 4/5 stars

Callie June has Tourette Syndrome and is nervous about starting another new school. Even though she is teased by her classmates, she is befriended by her neighbor Jinsong.  He helps her feel comfortable in her new town.  This novel is told in verse from the two points of view of Callie and Jinsong.  My daughter liked this book because, “it showed the story of true friendship” and she learned about Tourette syndrome.


I See Reality: Twelve Short Stories About Real Life by various authors
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 2016
Pages: 304
Price: $17.99
Source:  borrowed from the library
Rating: 3/5 stars

This book is a collection of twelve short stories by different authors.  This book is a YA book geared for older teens.  Only after reading reviews of this book did I realize that my daughter probably shouldn’t have been reading this book, as it deals with abusive relationships, sexuality, pregnancy and addiction.  My daughter felt it was an okay book.  “There were such a wide variety of topics and only some of the stories were interesting.”


It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by: Point, October 2016
Pages: 288
Price: $9.99
Source:  ARC
Rating: 4/5 stars

Days before the prom Avery Dennis is dumped by her boyfriend.  Then her American History teacher gives the class an oral history final project in which they are to interview adults about an event in American History that they had lived through.  In her interpretation of the assignment Avery decides to conduct her own oral history to find out why she always ends up single.  Thus, “It’s Not Me, It’s You:  An Oral History of Boys” is written. This story is told as an oral history with each chapter consisting of Avery interviewing her ex-boyfriends. There is commentary from various friends and family members as well that offer different perspectives on the same events. The oral history format of this book  is different and fun.  Although the main characters in the book are seniors in high school, the content is mild enough for middle school readers.  Readers will be able to relate to the topics of friendship, romance and jealousy.  I received an ARC of this book last year to review for Kiss the Book and my daughter wanted to read it, after seeing it at her school book fair this past fall.  She enjoyed the story and the format of this book, as did many of her middle school friends.

Books to Celebrate Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Books

Mardi Gras is quickly approaching.  On February 9, the holiday will be celebrated with King’s cake and parades down in New Orleans.  Here are some Mardi Gras books to read with the family to celebrate!

Non-Fiction Books:


Mardi Gras in New Orleans:  An Alphabet Book by Karen Jansen
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This picture book goes through each letter of the alphabet and relates it to the celebration of Mardi Gras.  Each page is accompanied by what appears to be a colorful graffiti-inspired chalk illustration.  The text of this book is a bit busy.  The author uses alliteration for each letter so there are several sentences of text for each letter.  Every word on the page that begins with the featured letter is colored and the sentence from one page sometimes flows into the sentence of the next letter’s page.  Almost all the important concepts of Mardi Gras are touched upon or named in the text, but descriptions of them are not provided.  This book is okay to supplement your Mardi Gras reading, but does not provide enough information to make it a primary reference to learn about the holiday.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

Fiction Books:


Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In this lengthy picture book (yes, this is not a quick bedtime read!) Mimi goes to her first Mardi Gras.  She eats beignets for breakfast and gets dressed up as a princess before heading out to celebrate Mardi Gras with her parents.  Mimi’s parents explain many of the sights that she sees.  She gets to taste cotton candy for the first time and collects beaded necklaces.  Although this is a fictional picture book, I think it does a nice job of describing a child’s first experience of Mardi Gras.

* We borrowed this book from the library.

On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This picture book depicts the Mardi Gras experience  through the eyes of two young children.  From the parades to the food, author Shaik drew upon her own childhood experiences to write this book.

*We borrowed this book from the library.


Timothy Hubble and the King Cake Party by Anita C. Prieto
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a cute fiction picture book that helps explain New Orleans tradition of King Cake during Mardi Gras.  Timothy Hubble’s family has just moved to New Orleans.  When he receives an invitation to his new friend and neighbor Adam’s king cake party he’s not exactly sure what to expect.  Adam and his twin sister Amanda explain what a king cake is and when and why the parties are held.  The explanation seems to worry Timothy even more…. a baby in the cake?  Girls at the party?  What happens if he doesn’t get the baby?  And what happens if he does and no girl wants to be his queen?!  This book does a good job of explaining the king cake tradition to young children, as well as touching upon worrying too much and making new friends.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

Chinese New Year Books for Kids

Chinese New Year Books for Kids

Chinese New Year begins on February 8 this year and lasts for fifteen days.  This year is the year of the monkey and is your year if you were born in 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, or 2004.  We enjoy exposing our children to different cultures and experiences.  Last year, our family celebrated Chinese New Year by making a feast together including homemade dumplings, egg rolls, sesame chicken and lo mein.  This year, we will probably celebrate the holiday by ordering some Chinese take-out! We’ve also been reading some books, both fiction and non-fiction, about China and the Chinese new year that we’d thought we’d share with you.  There is still time to get ahold of these books and read them during the celebration of the Chinese New Year!

*All books are linked to goodreads.

Non-Fiction Books:


Food Around the World:  Food in China by Polly Goodman
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This is  one of four books in the Food Around the World series that Goodman has written.   The book uses photographs with captions and short, simple text to describe the food in China.   Goodman describes what a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner might include.  She describes the different foods grown and eaten in the different regions of China as well as special occasion and festival food.   We learned that in Northern China, a coin is put inside a dumpling and whoever finds the coin is wished good luck for the upcoming year.  We also learned that spring rolls look like gold bars and represent wealth in the new year. Goodman provides interesting food facts throughout the book as well as a glossary in the back. A Chinese soup recipe is included at the end of the book too and Goodman ties the now dated food pyramid to Chinese diets.  This book is a great introductionto the foods of china for younger kids (lower elementary).  The text may still be difficult for some children, but the pictures will help keep their interest.  We read this as a family, with each of us taking turns reading.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Chelsea’s Chinese New Year by Lisa Bykkard
Illustrated by Katie Saunders
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This picture book is perfect to introduce Chinese New Year to preschool age students.  It follows Chelsea as she and her family prepare for and celebrate Chinese New Year.  This book is classified as non-fiction and has the features of a non-fiction book including a table of contents with four very short chapters, a glossary at the end, a short index and a list of additional resources to learn more about Chinese New  Year. The entire book is illustrated with bright, colorful pictures.  The text is short and written in a story format, with interesting facts presented in purple graphics.   This is a great introduction book for younger readers to Chinese New Year.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Chinese New Year by Anita Yasuda
Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

This book is part of the AV2 Celebrating American Holidays series. This is great resource for elementary students and classrooms.  The book provides a wealth of resources for the reader about Chinese New Year, beginning with what the holiday is to the history and important symbols and foods.  Each set of pages includes a craft, recipe or activity to supplement the concept introduced.  There’s a little, seven question quiz at the end to see what the reader has learned as well as a glossary of terms that the reader may be unfamiliar with.  As part of the AV2 series, the book doesn’t end with the reading of the book.  A code is included at the beginning of the book which you can enter at the AV2 website.  There you can access videos, weblinks and more activities to supplement the book.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Chinese New Year: Count and Celebrate! by Fredrick L. McKissack, Jr. and Lisa Beringer McKissack
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This picture book is another great resource to use with younger elementary students.  The book counts one through ten and introduces concepts related to Chinese New Year for each number.  Short, but informative text explains each concept in an easy to understand way.  Each number is accompanied by a large, colorful picture.  The book includes a “Words to Know” section at the end as well as additional resources for learning more about the holiday.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


D is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This is an alphabet picture book about Chinese New Year.  Each letter, from A through Z, is accompanied a word that relates to Chinese New Year, as well as bright, colorful illustrations.  Unfortunately, the book does not go into very much detail about the words and for some of the words, like acrobat and dragon dance, there is no text or definitions to accompany it.  V is for Veneration but no definition is given for the word, except the sentence that “Families venerate their ancestors at New Year’s”  (it means to honor or respect someone, in case you were wondering!).  At the end of the book, the author writes a note and offers some “Tips to Ensure Good Fortune in the New Year.”  The artist also has a note at the end of the book explaining some of the Chinese characters seen in the book. A recipe for New Year’s Dumpling Delight is also provided at the end of the book.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

Fiction Books:


The Day the Dragon Danced by Kay Haugaard
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Sugar and her Grandma go to the Chinese New Year’s Day Parade to see the dragon.  Sugar enjoys telling her Grandma everything that she’s learned in school about the holiday.  When the dragon finally makes it way down the street, it’s not dancing very well.  When she sees her father’s shoes, she ends up helping him out and saves the dragon dance.  Being told from an African-American perspective this story had great potential, but I felt the story was a little flat.  However, I enjoyed that the diverse community came together to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From the title you can guess that this is a take on the classic story of  Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  In this picture book, it is Chinese New Year and Goldy’s mother asks her to wish her neighbors a happy new year.  Of course, the neighbors aren’t home, but Goldy makes herself comfortable in their apartment.  Instead of porridge, she eats their congee (rice porridge) and she falls asleep on Little Chan’s futon.  References to Chinese food are interspersed throughout the book (bringing turnip cakes to the neighbors, comparing Mr. Chan’s mattress to being as hard as an almond cookie and sitting in Mrs. Chan’s armchair to feeling like stuffing in a pork bun).  This story had a happy ending which differs from the classic.  The author provides a note at the end of the book describing Chinese New Year and also provides a recipe for Turnip Cake.    This was a cute take on a classic story.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese Story by Yu Li-Qiong
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Maomao’s father works faraway and only comes home for Chinese New Year.  When he arrives the family celebrates the Chinese New Year together, making sticky rice balls, visiting friends and family and watching the dragon dance.  Soon it’s time for Papa to leave again but Maomao sends him with a special gift.  This was a poignant story about a family celebrating Chinese New Year.  This book won the Feng Zikai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award in 2009 and was also a 2011 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book winner.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


The Year of the Sheep:  Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin
Rating:  3 out of 5 Stars

This is the tenth book in the Chinese Zodiac series.  It tells the story of Sydney the lamb, who was born in the new year.  Zhi, the shepherd girl takes care of Sydney and the rest of the flock of sheep.  But Sydney keeps finding herself in trouble.  After a storm leaves the river dried up, Sydney and her friends help clear the logjam.  While this book touches upon friendship and working together, overall, we thought the story itself was just okay.  The beautiful illustrations by Alina Chau helped give this book a 3 star rating for us.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Four Kitchens – A Review


Four Kitchens:  My Life Behind The Burner In New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris by Lauren Shockey
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

If you have ever wondered what it was like working in the kitchen of a restaurant, this book is for you.  After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, author Lauren Shockey apprentices in four very different restaurants around the world.  The book is broken up into four sections documenting her experiences at each restaurant.  Starting at chef Wylie Dufresne’s wd-50, in New York City, she then travels to Hanoi, Vietnam to stage (apprentice) at La Verticale.  After three months in Vietnam, she travels to Tel Aviv, Israel to apprentice at Carmella Bistro.  Finally, she ends her last stage in Paris, France at Senderens.  Each kitchen is very different and so are her experiences in each.  What we do see is the hierarchy of the kitchen and the tedious jobs that apprentices are assigned.  These workers put in twelve plus hour days, sometimes spending hours cutting Brussels sprout leaves or shelling pounds of crabs, only to get up and do it all over again the next day.  Having eaten at wd-50, I found that chapter to be the most interesting.  While many famous chefs don’t tend to be very hands-on in the kitchen, as seen in Shockey’s apprenticeships in Israel and France, Dufresne cooks most nights on the fish line along with his staff.  I enjoyed reading about the molecular gastronomy that went into the preparation of food that I had eaten at wd-50, like the everything bagel and the cold, fried chicken.  Even with language and cultural barriers in Vietnam, Israel and France, Shockey seemed to have successful apprenticeships and forge new friendships with fellow co-workers, roommates and friends of friends.  I found those chapters to be insightful to the culture and food of the respective countries. Shockey provides recipes throughout the book inspired by each restaurant that she staged at.  She also noted that apprenticing taught her more about being a chef than culinary school.  While culinary school may teach you how to cut a carrot, when you work in a restaurant, you will have to learn how to cut the carrot the particular way that chef wants it done.  I found it somewhat difficult to understand how she could afford to spend a year working four, unpaid apprenticeships around the world after spending $40,000 at culinary school.  Then after the whole worldly experience, she realizes that she doesn’t want to work in a kitchen for a living.



Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (Book Review)


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  A  Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

I knew author, Barbara Kingsolver, as a fiction writer, having previously read her book The Poisonwood Bible.  I had first started listening to the audiobook version of this book, narrated by Kingsolver and her family several years ago.  I had not finished listening to it before it was due back at the library and hadn’t attempted to finish it until now.  For those who have read Plenty (see our review here) this book will seem familiar.  Kingsolver and her family move from Arizona to a farmhouse in the southern Appalachians, with the goal of eating locally for a year.  Kingsolver and her family use the land to grow vegetables and raise chickens and turkeys.  If they can’t grow or raise it themselves they choose to buy it from someone local who does. This book differs from Plenty, in that it is a family undertaking.  Lily, is just eight, when the family underwent their year of living locally.  The family also allowed for some luxury “cheat” items, including coffee, hot chocolate and dried fruit. Although Kingsolver’s teenaged-daughter, Camille, was away at college for the majority of the year, the book includes occasional excerpts in which she shares her thoughts on the experience.  She also provides recipes and seasonally appropriate meal plans.  Kingsolver’s husband, Steven, also provides additional commentary and information on current food issues.   The book is not all serious and preachy.  I found Kingsolver’s chapter on turkey mating to be humorous and interesting.

Some critics of this book feel that Kingsolver gets a bit preachy and they are not wrong.  For many of us, it is unrealistic for us to grow our own food, make our own bread, can fruits and vegetables, raise chickens, etc.  But I agree with Kingsolver that tomatoes in January, transported to the grocery store from across the country (or world) do not taste as good as the fresh tomatoes grown in our garden in the summer.  Just because we can get any type of produce throughout the year, doesn’t mean we should.  However, while making homemade cheese sounds fun it is realistically not something that I see myself doing.  My husband is not home to make fresh bread daily (and that’s not something that I am undertaking!).  Reading this book will make you think about the food you’re eating in a new way.  It brings up the importance of eating locally and seasonally and the effects that industrial agriculture has on small farms.   I am almost positive everyone who reads this book will learn something new.

*I borrowed this book from the library.



My Mom Loves Me More Than Sushi


My Mom Loves Me More Than Sushi by Filomena Gomes
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This picture book is a great way to  introduce children (and adults!) to different foods from around the world.  The little girl who narrates the story tells the reader that her mom loves her more than ____ (a different food around the world).  Each food named (sushi, biscotti, samosas, etc.) has an illustration of what the food looks like and a little, white flag with the name of the country it comes from.  For the most part, the foods are described well enough for the reader to get an idea of what the food is.  A map in the beginning and end of the book illustrates where each of the foods mentioned in the book comes from.  I see this book as being a great starting off point in cooking and trying new foods.  “Remember the biscotti from Italy that the girl and her mom ate?  Why don’t we try some?!”  There were foods mentioned in the book that I was unfamiliar with like canja and megadarra.  This book is illustrated, but could me more interesting and educational if actual photographs of the food were shown as well as flags of the different countries.

*We borrowed this book from the library.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise


Garlic and Sapphires:  The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

I first listened to this book on CD many years ago.  I only recently picked up the book to read again and loved it as much as I did listening to it the first time.  This memoir follows Ruth Reichl from 1993 through 1999 while she was the restaurant critic for The New York Times.   Well-known, and recognizable, Reichl realizes even before she officially starts her job that she’s going to need to disguise herself while dining out.  Through this book we meet several of her different personas including Molly, Miriam, Chloe and Brenda among others.  Reichl discovers that when dressed in “character” she actually becomes a different person, from her behavior and mannerisms, to her speech.  I found it fascinating to get an inside peek at the life of a restaurant critic.  I’ve always said that a restaurant critic is my “dream job.”  However, reading this makes me see that it isn’t always that glamorous.  We see that recognized restaurant critics get preferential treatment over the everyday diner.   Reichl has had to eat many less than stellar meals and sometimes experience horrible service when disguised.  She would dine at restaurants like Le Cirque five times before writing a review.   She isn’t a food snob though and enjoyed little hole-in-the-wall restaurants as much as the fancy ones.   I also realized that restaurant critic isn’t such a great job for a mother, when Reichl’s young son wishes his mommy could eat dinner at home with him every night.   This book is not focused much on cooking but you will get some of Reichl’s recipes and amazing descriptions of foods that she’s eaten in the many restaurants that she’s reviewed.

*I borrowed this book from the library.

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: A Review

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Spring is here and it’s time to start thinking about planting a garden!  If you saw the size of our backyard, you would know why I would need to request a book titled The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden from Blogging for Books.  My dream is to one day have a yard large enough to have a gigantic garden.  Until that day, which will hopefully come, I will attempt to garden…..AGAIN.

This book is actually a revised edition of a book previously published forty years ago, with added information on heirloom vegetable gardening.  It’s sold over 500,000 copies and I can see why.

In the whole scheme of gardening I am definitely a novice.  This book is a great resource for novice gardeners like myself.  Chapter 1 begins with planning out a garden.  It covers everything from where you should plant your garden to how many plants you will need based on the number of people you plan on feeding.  It also provides sample garden plans for different sized gardens using different types of vegetables, flowers and herbs.  Other chapters include creating an optimal soil mixture, when and how to plant different vegetables and watering the garden once you’ve planted it.  Newcomb also provides information on plants and herbs that work well together as well as pest and critter control.  The majority of the book consists of detailed information about specific vegetables.  Newcomb rates the vegetables, noting which ones work especially well in small-sized gardens.  She also gives information planting the specific vegetable, recommended varieties, typical problems you may encounter growing that vegetable, and harvesting and storage tips.

This book provided a wealth of information to me, as a beginning gardener.  Although not necessary, I think photographs would have enhanced the enjoyment of this book.   After reading this book, in lieu of an actual garden, my goal this year is to have success with container gardening.  Stay tuned for updates as I start planning!

*Disclosure:  I received this book from Blogging for Books.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Taste of Thailand Children’s Book Review


Taste of Thailand (Secret World Adventure Team (SWAT) series) by Lisa Thompson
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Taste of Thailand is part of the Secret World Adventure Team (SWAT) series.  This is one of seven books in the Read-it! chapter book series published by capstone publishing.  The series has an interest level geared towards children in grades 2-4 and takes them on adventures in different countries throughout the world.

In Taste of Thailand, the reader follows Ben and Lulu as they are transported to Thailand in a mission to help chef Meh Dang prepare a special feast for the queen.  On the way to meeting chef Meh Dang the kids see masked dancers preparing for the party, street food vendors, Thai boxing, takraw and Buddhist temples.  Readers are introduced to all kinds of spices and ingredients used in Thai cooking like chilies, curries and coconut cream, as well as being introduced to foods like durian, curries and fried bananas.  The book includes black and white illustrations as well as photographs to help the reader get a clearer picture of the sites of Thailand.  It’s too bad that the photographs are in black-and-white, since Thailand is so colorful and beautiful.  A glossary is included in the back with definitions of many of the words used throughout the book that readers may be unfamiliar with.   My daughter found the book interesting since she learned about Thailand and “foods that we don’t have like durian and live shrimp that jump out of the bowl.”  Please note that this is the only book in the series that focuses on food.  While this is a short chapter book, I think it does a good job of capturing the essence of Thailand and the food, especially for young children who most likely know very little about this country.  We have read several other books in this series and recommend if your child is interested in learning about other countries and cultures.

*We borrowed this book from the library.



An Appetite For Murder


An Appetite For Murder by Lucy Burdette
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

*This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve recently been on a food-related cozy mystery reading kick.   Cozy mysteries are usually quick, easy reads for me and I especially love that there a ton of books related to my favorite subject, food.  These books allow me to combine the best of both worlds, reading and food! I first started with On What Grounds, the first in the Coffeehouse Mystery series.  I then read this book An Appetite For Murder by Lucy Burdette.  This is the first book in the Key West Food Critic Mystery series.  In this book, Hayley Snow leaves New Jersey to follow her boyfriend, Chad to Key West, Florida (we know how that always works out, don’t we?!!).  But soon after moving to Key West Hayley finds Chad cheating on her.  Jobless and sharing a houseboat with her friend Connie, Hayley is hoping to land a job with new style magazine, Key Zest as their food critic. But then Chad’s new girlfriend, and Hayley’s possible new boss at Key Zest ends up dead, and Hayley is pinned as the main suspect.  The book takes us through Hayley trying to prove her innocence and catch the real killer.  Burdette gives the reader a good feel of Key West and its culture and food.  The book includes a quirky tarot card reader, Lorenzo, Hayley’s cat, Evinrude, an eclectic houseboat community and good food.   If I had to choose a dream job, food critic it would be!  So, I really enjoyed getting an inside look at the food critic profession.  The book also includes three recipes that were mentioned in the story.  Author Lucy Burdette also writes the golf lovers mystery series and the advice column mystery series under the name Roberta Isleib.  I enjoyed this book so much I’ve already started the second book in the series, Death In Four Courses.

*I borrowed this book from the library.