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It should come as no surprise that I picked up a few foodie books at BookExpo America (BEA) last May. But you may be surprised that I found one from Sleeping Bear Press, a publisher known for its illustrated children's books.
The Boy Who Wanted to Cook, by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Steve Adams, is an entry in Sleeping Bear Press's Tales of the World series.
Whelan's charming story is about Perrier Valcourt, who lives in a small village in southern France. His father is the owner/chef of a little restaurant called La Bonne Vache (the good cow), where all the villagers come to eat. Monsieur Valcourt is famous for his boeuf a la mode, and Madame Valcourt is known for her wonderful pastries. Ten-year-old Pierre wants to cook too, but his parents think he should be outside playing.
One day when Pierre is out riding his bike, he is stopped by a man who asks directions to the restaurant. As Pierre tells him how to get to La Bonne Vache, he notices the man is from the company that awards stars to the best establishments. Pierre doesn't know what to do. He wants his parents to win a star but he knows that the evaluation is supposed to be anonymous. Will Pierre warn his father?
The Boy Who Wanted to Cook is beautifully illustrated and can be read as an introduction to France and its food (there is even a glossary with a pronunciation guide at the back) or as the opening to a discussion of ethical behavior. Perfect for any young foodie.
Take a look at the sample page, showing Pierre shopping in the village, to get a feel for the illustrations and the text (Click to enlarge. Note: this is scanned from a review copy and does not reflect the final quality of the illustration.) I wish Madam Farcy had a cheese shop in my town!
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