Sing a song of plump, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes! Is there anything better than freshly picked homegrown beauties with their promise of mouthwatering soups, salads, sandwiches, salsa, and sauces? Or why not just eat them all by themselves? Hold the essence of summer in your hand, inhale the fragrance of lazy sunny days, then bite into that tempting globe of delight, letting the juice run down your chin. Mmmmmm!
Though it’s winter now in my part of the world, this brand new rhyming picture book by Eric Odeand Kent Culottahas me dreaming of dining al fresco with a cup of zesty gazpacho, a sassy tomato tart, bruschetta pomodoro, panzanella, caprese, veggie pizza and fresh pasta with arugula and parmesan. I could easily whip up all these dishes with the barrels and buckets and bushels of tomatoes described in Too Many Tomatoes (Kane Miller, 2016).🙂
While looking for more children’s books illustrated by Lena Anderson, I was happy to discover Anna’s Garden Songs— a whimsical, light-hearted collection of 14 fruit and veggie poems written by Mary Q. Steele.
Garden favorites like peas, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, beets and onions take their place in the sun with playful rhyming verse and Lena’s fanciful pictures. I may as well confess right now that I’ve always had a thing for giant vegetables, so when I saw how Lena fiddled with scale in this book I squealed with delight. 🙂
Blond, mostly barefoot, bespectacled Anna is just adorable as she plants, harvests and shares the garden’s bounty with her friends, grandfather, and large pet rabbit, who happily scampers through the pages and almost steals the show (he’s especially good at nibbling and napping).
From the moment I opened the book and saw Anna hiding in that big pea pod, I knew I was in for a real treat. I can’t decide which I like most — Anna sitting atop a giant beet, relaxing amongst the tomato plants, or wearing a dress made from lettuce leaves.
Mmmmm, somebody’s making something yummy! It’s a special stew made with a rainbow of freshly picked garden vegetables — red tomatoes, purple eggplant, green peas and beans, rosy radishes, brown potatoes and yellow peppers. Care for a bowl?
It’s such a treat to welcome award winning author/illustrator Cathryn Falwell to Alphabet Soup today. She’s just published an uncommonly delicious new picture book calledRainbow Stew (Lee & Low, 2013), which contains all the ingredients I love most about good stories: food, family, and fun. 🙂
A very cool grandfather (who makes yummy pancakes for breakfast) makes the most of a rainy summer day by suggesting everyone go outside to “find some colors for my famous Rainbow Stew!” So he and his three grandchildren don their rain gear and go searching for ripe veggies under the drippy leaves. With treasures like radishes, carrots, cucumbers and cabbage, and time enough to “jump around like grasshoppers and buzz about like bees,” everyone has a muddy grand time.
Miao! Who’s that peeking through the cauliflower leaves?
Meet Molly, a homeless orange tabby who wanders into a small community farm one Spring day and instantly captures everyone’s hearts.
Based on a true story, Molly’s Organic Farm (Dawn Publications, 2012), introduces young readers to the seasonal workings of an organic farm through Molly’s eyes. Curious and mischievous, she explores this wondrous world of giant cornstalks and row upon row of leafy vegetables, watching, hunting, and playing among the busy birds, bugs and critters who live there, some beneficial to the plants, others harmful.
The basic principles of organic farming and the marvelous interplay of nature are seamlessly interwoven with Molly’s activities, all gorgeously brought to life with Trina Hunner’s stunning illustrations. We learn about composting, companion planting, crop rotation, beneficial bugs and animal helpers, the importance of buying locally and the wonderful sense of community that’s established among those who share an interest in growing and eating healthy foods in a way that is gentle on the environment.
Surely they’re the most social of all vegetables — you rarely see or eat just one and they’re happiest out of their shells — canoodling in congenial groups, basking in their perfect orbed greenness, even more resplendent adorned with a buttery sheen.
Thomas Jefferson was certainly onto them. The English or Garden Pea is considered his favorite vegetable, judging by the sheer quantity of pea plantings and number of harvests at Monticello, as well as the amount of garden space regularly allotted to it.
Every Spring, Jefferson and his neighbors had a “First Peas to the Table” contest, a race to see whose peas would be ready first. The winner would host a dinner party, proudly serving his peas to the other contestants. Apparently, Jefferson rarely won, but like his eager friends, fully appreciated the greater prize — honoring a beloved tradition where all could celebrate the joys of gardening and the power of the pea to bring people together.
Since I’ve always been interested in Jefferson’s gardening and gourmandizing, I was happy to see First Peas to the Table by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell (Albert Whitman, 2012), a lovely story where school children plant a kitchen garden like Jefferson’s and have a pea growing contest of their own.