Cookbooks for Kids and Teens

Joyfully, cookbooks aren't only for adults. These compelling books about food for kids and teens take varying approaches to food: straightforward cookbooks (Cooking with My Dad, the Chef); books of myth with (The Story of Pasta) and without (Chinese Menu) recipes; and fun stories about food with some recipes included (Do Not Eat This Book! and This Is Not a Cookbook). Cheers and gānbēi!

Cooking with My Dad, the Chef: 70+ Kid-Tested, Kid-Approved (and Gluten-Free!) Recipes for Young Chefs! by Verveine Oringer and Ken Oringer (America's Test Kitchen Kids, $22.99, ages 10-up)
Allergen-friendly cooking is delightful rather than daunting in James Beard Award-winning chef Ken Oringer's first cookbook, co-written with daughter Verveine. Oringer has faced many challenges throughout his esteemed culinary career, yet one curve ball for which he was unprepared was Verveine being diagnosed with celiac disease. Over the last few years, father and daughter learned a few new tricks in the kitchen, and created more than 70 gluten-free meals and desserts--like Mochi Waffles, "Food Court" Chicken, and Boba Drinks--that kids can not only enjoy, but also take an active role in preparing. The difficulty level of each recipe is noted above the title, and the cookbook is likely to pique the interest of children without food allergies thanks to the abundance of full-color photos and illustrated comic strips. --Rachel Werner

The Story of Pasta and How to Cook It! by Steven Guarnaccia, with recipes by Heather Thomas (Phaidon Press, $29.95, ages 7-12)
Who knew the story of pasta could be so hilarious? In this big, handsome book, renowned illustrator and designer Steven Guarnaccia (The Museum of Nothing) shares the legends behind "one of the most widely eaten foods in the world." Each chapter introduces a pasta shape along with a silly story about, say, angels getting haircuts while capelli d'angelo pasta gatherers catch the falling strands. Then comes the real history, or at least the legend, illustrated with cartoony characters in strongly saturated colors and satisfying patterns. The page turn reveals a scrumptious recipe by prolific health and cookery writer Heather Thomas (The Avocado Cookbook), accompanied by a magazine-worthy photo of the completed dish. The recipes are designed for kids, but most will require substantial adult supervision. Hard to say who will love this book more, kids or adults! --Emilie Coulter

Do Not Eat This Book!: Fun with Jewish Foods & Festivals by Beth Kander, illus. by Mike Moran (Sleeping Bear Press, $18.99, ages 4-8)
Throughout the year "we give thanks/ for the things that make life sweet" and food as a point of Jewish celebratory connection is the focus of this boisterous, instructive title. In loose chronological order, several families enjoy dishes associated with six major Jewish observations, five holidays plus the recurring Shabbat. Vivid and cartoonish illustrations by Mike Moran (Theo TheSaurus and the Perfect Pet) pair well with debut picture book author Beth Kander's energetic rhyming stanzas to highlight festivities and their related special dishes; variations on a chipper refrain--"but please remember, bubbeleh: DO NOT EAT THIS BOOK!"--encourage participatory read-alouds. And the story is only half the fun! The book also includes recipes for modern interpretations of snacks corresponding with each traditional celebration, such as a "charcuter-tree" for Tu B'Shevat and Shabbat Shakshuka. A culturally attuned sweet treat for young chefs! --Kit Ballenger

This Is Not a Cookbook: A Chef's Creative Process from Imagination to Creation by Flynn McGarry, illus. by Adil Dara (Delacorte Press, $19.99 ages 8-12)
Professional chef Flynn McGarry includes recipes in his inspiring debut, but the primary focus of the colorfully illustrated work is to advise readers on how to use their own unique perspective to follow their passions, thus finding both success and joy in the process. McGarry uses his own journey from 10-year-old cooking phenom to New York City restaurant owner to demonstrate how his experience parallels any creative endeavor. The chef counsels that "reflecting, refining, and allowing your opinions to change is how you continue to create endless possibilities," whether cooking or following another creative pursuit. Adil Dara's illustrations mimic the naïve style of a young person's crayon drawings, accentuating the pretension-free mood of McGarry's writing and approach to food. This not-quite-a-cookbook is a must for any budding visionary. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Chinese Menu: The History, Myths, and Legends Behind Your Favorite Foods by Grace Lin (Little, Brown, $24.99, ages 8-12)
"The menu at your Chinese restaurant is the table of contents for a feast of stories," Grace Lin promises. She reveals the "real legends, real myths, and real histories" of ubiquitously familiar Chinese foods: rice (thank your pups!); wonton soup (a symbol of "the creation of the world"), tofu (soymilk was a prince's gift to his mother). Lin also highlights the fortune cookie's United States origins, and the possible Chinese invention of the fork--though chopsticks were preferred to "promote harmony and order" over the weapon-like, uncivilized knife and fork. "Every Chinese dish served in an American restaurant has been adapted and changed," Lin states, noting that "above anything, this food is the flavor of America." Lin's signature whimsical illustrations ensure a veritable feast. --Terry Hong

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