[mouthwatering review] Pancakes to Parathas by Alice B. McGinty and Tomoko Suzuki


Good Morning! Buenos Días! Ohayōgozaimasu!

Have you eaten yet?

If you’re hungry, you’ve come to the right place.

Thanks to this delectable new picture book, you’ll be able to enjoy not one, but twelve different breakfasts in twelve different countries!

In Pancakes to Parathas: Breakfast Around the World (little bee books, 2019), author Alice B. McGinty and illustrator Tomoko Suzuki serve up a sweet and savory multiethnic feast that’ll tantalize taste buds and stir up a little wanderlust. Who could resist a charming invitation to tag along with such a delicious itinerary?

It’s breakfast time around the world,
in countries near and far.
Wake up, world! It’s time to eat,
no matter where you are!

McGinty features each of the twelve breakfasts with a short poem and engaging note, while Suzuki’s bold and colorful double page spreads not only spotlight the foods, but provide cultural context with architectural landmarks, flora and fauna, and sensory rich side dishes.

Our first stop is Australia, where kids wake up to Vegemite on toast. McGinty instantly arouses interest and curiosity:

Breakfast in Australia
is a black and salty paste.
Thinly spread on toasted bread . . .
it’s quite a shocking taste!

Shocking? Well, of course we want to know more. McGinty tells us that kids in Australia love it despite its strong taste. It’s full of vitamins and when spread between crackers, “it comes out of the cracker holes like little worms!”

Fun details like these (just the kind kids eat up) abound in all the descriptions. Not only do we learn what the foods consist of, but how and when they’re prepared and/or eaten — weekday or weekend? Store-bought or homemade? Different flavors? What might be eaten along with the featured dish?

From Australia, it’s a little trip northeast to Japan for some natto with fish, rice and raw egg, before we head west to China, India, Israel, and Nigeria, bump up north to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, before heading south to Brazil, after which we nosh in Jamaica and Mexico before finally landing in the USA.

There’s something fascinating to learn at each location. Did you know kids in Brazil have their own special morning coffee, or that if you lived in Nigeria, you’d probably eat your breakfast (a crunchy bean fritter) while walking to school? Chocolate lovers will be happy to hear about hagleslag, a type of flavorful sprinkle that’s spread on thick slices of buttered bread. Not to worry if you’re not into chocolate (how is that possible?), because hagleslag comes in other flavors. 🙂

Of course I was happy to see the UK included in this culinary tour, and know well the traditional and hearty English breakfast described, complete with bacon rashers, bangers, baked beans, fried toast, mushrooms, tomatoes and eggs. Not necessarily daily fare, but good on weekends or for special occasions. During the week kids might enjoy Weetabix with milk, or eggs and soldiers (soft-boiled eggs served in egg cups with sticks of toast to dip into the yolk). Suzuki’s generous platter is flanked by the British flag, a double decker bus, Big Ben, Parliament, and the London Eye.

I love how the “flavor” of each country is enhanced with all the pictorial details, from bridges to temples, skyscrapers to windmills, palm trees and beaches, fruit stands, elephants, olive groves, rug merchants and macaws. McGinty also keeps the lively pace going with transitional verses from country to country.

When we finally come “home” to America, we’re served the familiar cereal, bagels, toast and jam, maybe waffles and pancakes on the weekends. It might be nice to remind munchkins about the diversity of our country — that while these foods may be standard breakfast fare, people from all the countries mentioned in this book live amongst us (or “are” us), so any of the other breakfasts could be and probably are eaten here as well.

And that’s the beauty of it. Expand horizons and introduce kids to different cultures through food. I’m all for it. And while we all have our “go-to” breakfasts (mine is oatmeal/blueberries/rice milk), this book reminds us that variety is the spice of life. I’m inspired to change things up now and then — I can really get behind hagleslag, toast fingers (good excuse to use my egg cups), and a challah, cottage cheese, and chop salad buffet just like they have in Israel. I’ll pass on the sticky natto and shocking Vegemite, though. 🙂




You didn’t think we would tell you all about this book without offering a wee sample of its goodness, did you?

Somebody had to do a little taste testing, and of course, we’re always willing to make the sacrifice on your behalf. 🙂

We started with some Aloo Paratha (whole wheat flat bread stuffed with spiced mashed potato). We had a few slices with plain butter and also had some with Cucumber Raita dipping sauce. Delicious, but it’s something I’d rather eat for lunch than first thing in the morning. Of course Mr Cornelius declared he could eat this any time.



From India, we zipped over to the Netherlands to try some Hagleslag. This was a bit like eating crunchy Nutella. It was definitely yummy with lots of butter on a thick slice of freshly baked bread. I wonder why I had never heard of it before — we certainly have chocolate sprinkles here in the U.S., but I guess it never occurred to me to eat them on plain bread for breakfast. We found our De Ruijter hagleslag at World Market.



Finally, we topped off our meal with a nice bowl of Weetabix, fruit and milk. Always nice to visit the UK!  I confess I’ve had Weetabix before so it wasn’t new, but it had been a long time since I’d had some. The trick is to pour a little milk in the bowl first, then lay on the fruit and cereal so you get some nice crunch before things get too soggy. Weetabix is also lovely warmed up. 🙂



Did you enjoy that? We certainly did. 🙂

What’s your usual breakfast? What’s the best breakfast you’ve ever had while traveling abroad?



PANCAKES TO PARATHAS: Breakfast Around the World
written by Alice B. McGinty
illustrated by Tomoko Suzuki
published by little bee books, February 2019
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 40 pp.

♥️ Check out this recent Q&A with author Alice McGinty at the publisher’s website.




Thanks to all who entered the giveaway for THE NIGHT THE FOREST CAME TO TOWN last week.

We are pleased to announce that the winner is:

*drum roll*

*tippy tap tap*




Hooray and Congratulations, Joanne!!

We know you and your favorite munchkins will love the book!

Stay tuned, everyone, for another giveaway or two in April. 🙂



Don’t forget to send me your links if you’re doing something special on your blog for National Poetry Month! Please help spread the word. Thanks!

Email: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com.



Carol is hosting the Roundup at Carol’s Corner. Zip over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy the weekend!




This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!

* Interior spreads text copyright © 2019 Alice B. McGinty, illustrations © 2019 Tomoko Suzuki, published by little bee books. All rights reserved.

** This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee. Thank you for your support!

*** Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

47 thoughts on “[mouthwatering review] Pancakes to Parathas by Alice B. McGinty and Tomoko Suzuki

  1. I just wanted to say that I love your website!!! You have so many wonderful book recommendations and I can’t wait to purchase this book to read with my baby girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marvelous review, Jama. You know I love this book, shared it recently. It will make a tasty addition to classrooms! I’ve had big spicy sausages with eggs in Germany, not too much different from here, but those sausages were good! My usual breakfast is cereal, Post Great Grains, but I love French Toast! Thanks for sharing your own experimenting. Love the look of Hagleslag!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Germans are known for their sausages — you are lucky to have had some there. The hagleslag was delicious — felt very indulgent to be eating dessertish chocolate it for breakfast. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I WANT this book! And even though I have already had my usual English muffin with peanut butter and strawberry jam, I want to go out to the kitchen and whip up something fancy right now! Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a delicious book! Not sure about having sprinkles for breakfast, tbh. I often have oatmeal or toad-in-the-hole or waffles, but I love pretty much all kinds of breakfast foods. I’m a fan!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Best breakfast? In the summer, when cherries are in season: plain yogurt, preferably whole milk; sweet dark cherries cored and cut in half; tiny pecan pieces. Don’t skimp on the cherries and pecans. Stir till the cherry juice spreads throughout. It’s heavenly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Man, you’ve got my mouth watering, Kate. I LOVE cherries and look forward to cherry season every summer. (we wait anxiously for WF to stock Hood River cherries). I’m going to have to remember to eat some with yogurt and pecans just like you. 🙂


    2. This sounds delicious, with the yogurt and cherries and pecans. I’m going to try it! And thank you to Jama for this great review of Pancakes to Parathas and for all of these AMAZING photos, too. I so appreciate your spreading the word about this book, and in such a creative and enthusiastic way!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lots of fun featuring your book here, Alice. Enjoyed trying parathas and hagleslag in the name of research. 🙂 Thanks for writing an informative and entertaining picture book!


  6. Fun to explore the world with this book, one breakfast at a time. I don’t have a fondness for vegemite either, but my experience (having raised little ones in Australia), is that the vegemite doesn’t get spread on the bread by itself—the bread is also lavishly buttered. Have no doubt, that makes the going down quite a bit easier. LOL. I LOVE your photo of all the worker bears with the Weetabix, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the worker bears have been very busy. When it comes to food, there’s no shortage of volunteers to set things up. Even with a lot of butter, not sure I’m brave enough to try Vegemite . . .


  7. I had hagleslag when I went to Holland to visit my Oma (grandma) back when I was 16. I do remember thinking that the idea of putting chocolate sprinkles on bread was kind of weird and, as much as I like chocolate, I never quite took to it. If I want chocolate on bread, I’ll either a) add a few chocolate chips to peanut butter on bread or b) use Nutella. 😉

    That book looks fantastic! I’m all about multi-cultural exploration, and rhyming books make it doubly fun.

    (Although … Vegemite. *shudder*)

    My usual breakfast used to be plain Greek yogurt with sliced banana and whatever other fruit was in season, until I was told my potassium levels were too high. Nowadays I usually have one of my grain-free PB muffins (which do, in fact, use bananas in the recipe, but I figure I’m only getting a few bites, at most, per muffin), or cereal with milk.

    Best traveling breakfast? Hmm. Honestly, probably something involving the super-fresh breads you can find in Europe. To. Die. For. I’m sure I’ve had more decadent breakfasts here and there during my travels, but right now it’s the European breads – fresh butter, fresh raspberry jam – that come to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That must have been cool trying hagleslag in Holland, even if you didn’t like it that much. It *is* a strange idea, something I knew nothing about until I read this book! I hear you on the freshly baked bread with lots of butter!


  8. I had Marmite once–shudder… Sorry to be the voice of potential doom, but there is a Weetabix factory in nearby Massachusetts that is closing. Post bought out Weetabix less than a year ago and has decided to cut costs by closing the plant. I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end for Weetabix! 😦 I like Weetabix and I’d hate to lose another non-sugared cereal choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Say it isn’t so! I like Weetabix because you don’t really have to add any sugar — by itself it has a nice flavor. It’s a fun challenge to eat most of a brick without it getting too soggy. 🙂 If one plant closes, surely that can’t mean the end of Weetabix production in the U.S.? If worse comes to worse, I imagine one would still be able to purchase it in a place like World Market, which carries international products — but probably more expensive.


  9. What an absolutely mouthwatering book. Breakfast us my favorite meal. I love it all. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, waffles, and even sometimes leftover cold pizza!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now you’ve reminded me that I haven’t had waffles in a long time. I’m always up for pancakes — cold pizza, not so much.


  10. It’s such fun to travel through different countries at breakfast time and I’m sure my students would be fascinated by the different meals! I can totally imagine some of these, but others, not so much. As a toddler, my daughter used to want tuna sandwiches for her breakfast–ick! It was hard to even make them! These days, I’m a big fan of steel cut oats with craisins, coconut and chia.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a piece of peanut butter toast most mornings. I have got to add fruit and veggies into my diet, so I may start doing a half piece of peanut butter toast and some fruit. Tea and water are my drinks of choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a BEAUTIFUL book. I love how the sameness of breakfast is unique in each place. What a wonderful way to learn more about the world. I usually eat cheerios or an oatmeal muffin. But, the best breakfast I’ve had was in Greece. Yogurt with honey is the most spectacular breakfast under the sun!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I checked this book out of the library recently and I wasn’t two pages in before I wondered when I would see it featured here! It had your name “written all over it!”

    One of my students’ mothers made us those crunchy bean fritters from Nigeria (not related to this book, but to a classroom cookbook we are making). They are YUMMY!

    My usual breakfast is a hardboiled egg and hot tea, but I dip my egg in salt, pepper, and either curry or an Egyptian spice mix a friend made called dukkah.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your classroom cookbook project sounds interesting! Hope you’ll share more about it at your blog. Sampling all the dishes must be the best part. 🙂


  14. I’m all in for chocolate sprinkles in the morning. LOL. But really, I love this book. The illustrations are great and I’m so curious about food in other countries. I remember that it took me a little while to get used to grilled/broiled tomatoes with breakfast when I lived in the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here — grilled tomatoes along with grilled mushrooms. Food is such a great way to learn about other countries/cultures.


  15. A breakfast-round-the-world book for grownups would also be a great addition to food literature! All these different breakfasts look great, and as always I love your little bears and their antics.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jama, so sorry I took so long to write a comment. I read your very interesting review on Pancakes to Parathas by Alice B. McGinty and Tomoko Suzuki yesterday and then got such a sore throat that I had to lie down. You would have thought that my mouth would have been salivating instead. In reality, I got a virus with a low grade fever and have been sleeping most of the time. Anyways, back to your post. I think I would have to pass on the Australian delicacy but would very much like to taste hagleslag since I am a chocoholic. I bet I would like the Weetabix since I like wheat cereal. I wish I could be one of your food tasters! Thanks for sharing another tasty tidbit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear about the virus, Carol. Hope you’re feeling better today. So far no one has been enthusiastic about Vegemite — seems to be an acquired taste for sure. I once had a roommate from Australia who loved Marmite — she had some on toast every day.


  17. I will definitely buy this for the grandkids, and a copy for myself! I’m going to look up Aloo Paratha right now. Whole wheat bread and mashed potatoes. My favorites in one dish!
    I eat the same thing everyday. I follow the late Adelle Davis’ idea of “breakfast like a king (or queen)”. Either a smoothie with yogurt and fruit or yogurt and fruit in a bowl, two pieces homemade whole wheat toast with butter and jam, orange juice, coffee, and water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love that you make your own bread, Nan! Nothing better. Hope you and your grandkids enjoy the book — it will make them curious to try different kinds of breakfasts. 🙂


  18. De Ruijter hagleslag, I’m going to have to scout some of these down for my college daughter she would love them on anything! What a delicious post. I love all the bears with the “Weetabix” they are adorable, I’d probably like this as I eat oatmeal and fruit everyday too–I also add some cashews and flax. I have a very small bowl and then have a couple flax seed crackers with almond butter, and I’m off and running. Delightful book by Alice, I have a few of her books.Thanks too for the lovely doggie and bird cake eating art at the top.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If your daughter likes chocolate, she will definitely love hagleslag! It feels very decadent on a slice of buttered bread. Who knew this was such a typical breakfast for the Dutch? Thanks to Alice, now we know! 😀 You’ve made me hungry for flax seed crackers — any particular brand you recommend?


  19. Looks like another delightful (and delicious) book from Alice. I love your review and the photos of all of the breakfasts that you tried. My normal breakfast is a couple of scrambled eggs with cheese sprinkled on top and a couple of slices of bacon. I haven’t had the opportunity to travel outside of the U.S., so I haven’t tried anything unusual, but after reading this, I now have some new ideas to try.
    Thanks for gathering all of the National Poetry Month posts here. The only thing I’m officially planning at this point is participating in the progressive poem. I may also follow along some of the goals being set by others. Happy Poetry Month! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t mind eating scrambled eggs more often if someone made them for me. I’m not a morning person so I usually eat something simple that doesn’t require “cooking.” Once you do the egg and bacon thing, there’s more clean-up too. . . yes, I’m lazy. Happy Poetry Month to you too! Looking forward to following along with the Progressive Poem.


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