4 Transitional Books About Food | Spotlight

New readers can feed their minds as they read these books about feeding their bellies.

Ash Takes the Cake (Pokémon). adapt. by ­Maria S. Barbo. 32p. (Scholastic ­Reader, Level 2). Scholastic. Apr. 2024. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781339028033.
Gr 2-3–A fun adventure adapted from the Pokémon TV show. Ash and his friends are having a snack before going to the gym to Battle Gym Leader Opal, when Goh captures a new Pokémon. Before too long, Goh’s new Pokémon evolves, and they are ready for a surprise baking competition at the gym with the Pokémon Alcremie as their partners. When Ash is picked to battle Gym Leader Opal, they are both prepared to put their skills to the test. Illustrations match those of the anime, making them easily identifiable to fans of all levels. While this is not a new story, readers will enjoy reliving the Pokémon dessert battle. Pair this book with similar titles, such as Lee Howard’s Giddyup, Scooby-Doo! VERDICT Great for reluctant readers who love Pokémon.–Hilary Tufo

BUCKLEY, Margaret. Ice Cream Townillus. by Kiersten Eagan. 32p. (Step into ­Reading). Random. May 2024. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593807774; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593807767.
PreS-Gr 1–Written from a child’s first-person point of view, this book introduces a town where everything is made of ice cream, from streets and schools to stores and pools. “Let’s all live in Ice Cream Town! Everywhere you look around—ice cream up and ice cream down. Let’s all live in Ice Cream Town!” Appealing to an early childhood readership, the illustrations and text work in tandem to pull young readers into the narrative. Varying warm and cool palettes, the pictures balance larger spreads with smaller layouts to accompany the target text. The illustrations also portray a town that reflects cultural diversity, where young readers are likely to see themselves represented in the story. ­Although some of the summative repetition seems unnecessary at times, the text balances musicality, rhyming, and repetition to engage children with words in an authentic and engaging context. VERDICT This early reader showcasing a tasty treat offers children the opportunity to hear rhyming words, associate sounds and text, and practice early literacy skills.–Jennifer Strattman

HOLM, Astrid. Cooking with the Sneetches. ­illus. by Erik Doescher. 32p. (Step into Reading). Random. May 2024. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593706244; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593706237.
PreS-K–Creative creatures have a beach day, Dr. Seuss style. The Sneetches begin a day at the beach by swimming, walking, and playing. Then they cook hot dogs, take a rest, and, best of all, roast marshmallows! With simple, colorful illustrations showcasing the Sneetches, this early reader will likely engross kids in the fun of play and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. The text is simple, featuring high frequency early sight words and basic rhyming sentences. It’s a perfect selection for introducing concepts of print to pre-readers, such as illustrating the differences between text and pictures, as well as uppercase and lowercase letters. The rhyming presented also facilitates children’s grasp of early literacy skills. Overall, this story balances the delightful rhythm of a day at the beach with fun, lunch, rest, play, treats, and an evening trip home after a busy day. VERDICT A humorous and fun-filled story, and an excellent shared reading experience likely to resonate with the youngest learners.–Jennifer Strattman

BOUKARIM, Leila. Zips and Eeloo Make Hummusillus. by Alex Lopez. 80p. (Zips and ­Eeloo: Vol. 1). Andrews McMeel. Feb. 2024. Tr $11.99. ISBN 9781524884352.
Gr 2-4–Certified “human experts” Zips and Eeloo, who happen to be aliens, have come to this world to tell us all about their favorite human things. In this first volume, they try to teach all about hummus, but things go off the rails fairly quickly as the two may not know as much about human culture as they let on, mistaking a bowling ball for a bowl and confusing sugar for salt. Overall, it’s certainly a lesson in food literacy, as the two literally go through every step in making the dish, including tricks like pressing the garlic to peel it easier. With the focus so much on the recipe, there’s not much room for story, and the gags mostly revolve around small kitchen mishaps. Colorful, large panels will definitely hold readers’ attentions, while the first-person, “staring directly at the audience” approach gives a modern feel to the piece that constantly breaks the fourth wall, à la Aaron Blabey’s “Bad Guys” series, adding to the humor. VERDICT A decent start to a series about a silly duo.–Peter Blenski

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