Once upon a Time

“One of the magical aspects of writing stories is how you form intimate relationships with groups of characters… then when the book is published and goes out into the world, you hope that your characters will enter the hearts and minds of people you have never met.” These are not my words but the words from children’s author Morris Gleitzman.

Morris has had so much success with his sales of Once http://www.morrisgleitzman.com series, topping 1.5 million copies.

While recently in Brisbane I visited the Kenmore library for some quiet reading and reflection. There are so many wonderful events on where bookings are essential. Even though I could not attend the “Meet Kate Young” session, I was intrigued with her blog thelittlelibrarycafe.com, which has taken readers all over the world and is regularly featured in the Guardian. Kate has written a book called The Little Library Cookbook.

Browsing her website I discovered Book Indexes where she has used popular children’s books and matched them with food. Any food inspired literature fascinates me. There are countless books out there to entice adults into reading with the bonus of food, recipes and the aromas/ flavours of cuisine.

I would like to focus on my love of children’s books, and some picture books that use food in interesting ways. GULP! GOBBLE! GRAB something to eat, or drink while you read on.

The following books are a taste of delightful humour, quirky characters, a good plot and with a spoonful of food added to the mix.

Hard Boiled Legs – Breakfast Book by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake shows the young readers what fun stories are all about. While writing this brilliant study of breakfast, Michael Rosen lived entirely on a diet of burnt toast, socks and eggshells!

Next we have favourites like Matilda where chocolate cake features. Oh what a mess this makes in the film with Bruce Bogtrotter gorging himself on cake to prove a point. Hazel Edwards, author of the popular series, There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof eating Cake, shows her readers that having a great imagination is a necessary ingredient for a good picture story.

Published by Scholastic, Koala Eat Gum Leaves by Laura and Philip bunting uses a beloved marsupial as the main character. He’s had enough of eating monotonous gum leaves for his diet so when he spies an ice cream van, he’s immediately won over by its delicious sweet taste. It links nicely to Eric Carle’s Hungry Caterpillar where food is the message – perhaps too much excessive sugary food is to be guarded; a book that works well with toddlers through to the prep years.

I can imagine that Kate Young has whipped up some amazing recipes using cheese, ice cream and fruits. Kate lists other books like The Secret Garden, Winnie the Pooh, Green Eggs and Ham and Possum Magic, to name a few.

One of my favourite rhyming stories that I read to my grand daughter is Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose by Julia Donaldson. There’s the predictability of the rhyme in harmony with the illustrations. It’s a fun book to read aloud and uses animals and food to entertain. I think I have read this one dozens of times!

With New Zealand author Pamela Allen’s brilliant picture books, many children and parents find the stories enchanting and clever with their careful use of alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhythm. Her titles exceed five million copies. Pamela’s favourite food is stewed tamarillos ( tree tomatoes when she was little). And her favourite children’s author is one of mine too – Margaret Mahy who also features food in her stories.

Can you guess the words that come from the next image?


The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear has captivated generations of children with its beautiful pea-green boat.

“They took some honey and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five pound note.

This nonsense poem published during 1871 can be read at bed time or outdoors, suitable for all ages.

And finally with Easter around the corner, who can resist a bunny story?

Happy reading.

And check out Kate Young who is an Australian born, London based food writer and cook.

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Leave a Comment


February 16, 2018 at 6:52 pm

What fun Margaret. I love the way Chocolate mousse for greedy goose sounds when I say it. I still love children’s books too.

February 25, 2018 at 11:02 pm

Creative people are some of the most beautiful souls.

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    February 26, 2018 at 2:02 am

    Yes I agree even if it means gathering new ideas and inspiration every day!

M.J. Gibbs
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