Make, Bake & Learn to Cook by David Atherton, illustrated by Rachel Stubbs

Make, Bake & Learn to Cook: Fun & Healthy Recipes for Young Cooks by David Atherton,  illustrated by Rachel Stubbs. Candlewick Press, c2020, 2021. 9781536219364

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  Atherton won The Great British Baking Show in 2019 but here he’s aiming for simpler fare. He’s included about 50 recipes that could be tackled at home by kids age 5 and up, with some adult help. The categories include “Starting the Day”, “Lunches and Simple Suppers”, “Delicious Treats”, and “Cakes and Bakes” and have been carefully selected for their simplicity and genuine kid-appeal. The page set-up is the same every time: a brief description of the dish, a list of ingredients (text as well as small pictures), a step-by-step Method grid with illustrations, and finally, pictures of diverse families making and eating the goodies. An equipment list at the front of the book features images of all the tools you’ll need along with their names, but the individual illustrated Method grids also show the stuff in action. There’s also a glossary and an explanation of measurement terms.

These are not just the same old recipes for kids you’ve seen before, but feature innovative forms and ingredients. I would definitely try the Crunchy Hedgehogs (shaped mashed potatoes with a crispy panko exterior) and was intrigued by the Sweetie Birthday Cake that contained two ripe avocados! Stubbs’s small, scribbly illustrations add a lot of joy to the book and make the work look like fun. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. There’s no discussion of food allergies (and a few peanut recipes) so preview if this is an issue in your house. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a great choice for kids venturing into the kitchen and tying on an apron for the first time. All of the recipes require either a blender, an oven, a stovetop, or knives, so supervision is a must. On the plus side, there are very few esoteric ingredients and a lot of emphasis on fruits and vegetables, so most families will be able to reproduce the food offerings with minimal prep and a clear conscience.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 641.5

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 17, 2022

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