Food- and family-focused reads for all ages, from the Columbus Metropolitan Library

The Cook and the King by Julia Donaldson

Hear ye! Hear ye! The king is hungry and is sick of eating soggy pizza! He needs a new cook! Many cooks apply for the job with colorful and interesting foods, such as sausages in jelly, but it takes a goofy guy named Wobbly Bob, wearing a set of mismatched socks, to catch the king’s attention. This fun rhyming fairy tale by the author of “The Gruffalo” is the perfect laptime readalong. Using silly voices for the comical duo will have youngsters in stitches. Kids will chant, “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m terribly scared” along with Wobbly Bob every time he faces a new food challenge. But don’t worry, just read along to discover how the hungry king helps Wobbly Bob face his fears on a cooking adventure across land and sea. FOR AGES 3-6

Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed

“Bilal Cooks Daal” is a book about yummy food, culture, family and friends, but most of all patience. It’s the start of the day when Bilal’s father calls him inside to help him start dinner. All of his friends are confused as to how dinner could take so long. Bilal excitedly takes them to the kitchen, lines up the spices by color, and begins to mix all the ingredients. Traditional daal can take hours to make. So while the daal simmers all day, Bial and his friends play hopscotch, swim and hike. Once the sun begins to set, Bilal’s father calls them home. They break naan around the table and share the nutty, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth daal. The recipe is included on the final page. FOR AGES 4-8 

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Awesome Edible Kids Crafts by Arena Blake

This book is perfect for baking enthusiasts. Rainbow toast, marshmallow paint and unicorn dessert cups are just three of the 75 featured projects. Most of the recipes are easy enough for kids to cook on their own. The book also focuses on things the whole family can snack on together or that would be perfect for a “snack-tivity” on a playdate. Fun facts are provided for each project under the “Did You Know?” banner. For example, “giraffes can drink 10 gallons of water at a time” and “during the Revolutionary War, soldiers were sometimes paid in chocolate.” FOR AGES 6-11

Disney Daring Dreamers Club #2: Piper Cooks Up a Plan by Erin Soderberg

My family is big on kids’ baking shows, so when I heard Disney was releasing a book about an aspiring food scientist, I was excited to read and share it. “Piper Cooks Up a Plan” is the latest book in the Daring Dreamers Club series. Perfect for middle schoolers who still love to read about princesses, the series is about a diverse group of five girls who help each other with their struggles at school and home. Just like Princess Tiana, Piper is a wizard in the kitchen, but she struggles to compete on a baking show with other food scientists due to her dyslexia. Read along as Piper learns many lessons about friendship and how family support can make all the difference. FOR AGES 8-12

Bloom by Kevin Panetta

Do you love gooey, super-sweet, yummy treats? Then “Bloom” is for you. It’s a simple story with lots of heart, and it will definitely satisfy any teenage romance sweet tooth you might have. Ari is trying to figure out the recipe for his future. He just graduated from high school and wants to follow his dream to move to the city and play guitar in a hipster band. But his father needs him to stay home and help with the family baking business. To find a solution, Ari decides to hire Hector, a culinary student who’s mourning the loss of his Nana by re-creating recipes in her honor. Hector’s love for baking makes Ari question what is truly important in life. Is it being with family or following your dreams? The illustrations are beautiful, with some of the panels taking on the shape of braided loaves of bread. Plus, the recipe on the final page will put a smile on anyone’s face. FOR TEENS

TRY THIS

Prepear by Prepear Inc.

prepear.com

If, like me, you’re a fan of reading cookbooks and trying out new family-friendly meals but don’t want to carry around books and handwritten recipes, check out this family-meal-planning app and website.

Prepear does a few things the other meal planning apps don’t. In addition to storing users’ favorite recipes in one place, it also organizes recipes weeks in advance, and sends daily morning reminders about what is on that day’s dinner menu (just in case something needs thawed or soaked). There is also an “add to grocery list” option. But the best part of the app allows you to change the serving size of each recipe; it adjusts all the measurements, so the only math you have to do is your kids’ homework. The free app is available for Android and iOS.

Geni Randle is a librarian at Main Library in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system.