A menu of munching and mischief serves up a cornucopia of chuckles


May 13, 1994|By Molly Dunham Glassman | Molly Dunham Glassman,Sun Staff Writer

Maybe you aren't what you eat. But there's no denying that at a very young age, we learn to associate food with every emotion from pleasure (trips to McDonald's, Thanksgiving at Grandma's) and pain (plates piled with Brussels sprouts, Thanksgiving at Grandma's).

Here are a few books that kids can sink their teeth into.

* "In the Diner," written by Christine Loomis, illustrated by Nancy Poydar (Scholastic, $14.95, 32 pages, ages 3-7) is a brisk and breezy account of a day in the life of a neighborhood diner.

Using just one or two sentences per page, the author flexes her action verbs as she captures the hustle and bustle.

Bacon sizzles.

Syrup drizzles.

Coffee brews.

Beef stews.

Bagels toast.

Turkeys roast.

Soap bubbles.

Dough doubles.

All the while, we get a behind-the-counter view of the organized mayhem that is a short-order kitchen. Tomato sauce boils over. Gravy spills on the floor. There are even a couple of overhead views -- one of the crazed kitchen workers and another of the customers, chattering away.

Just about every ethnic group is represented in the watercolor illustrations, which are as lively as their accompanying verbs.

* The young customers portrayed in "In the Diner" are fairly well-mannered. A more realistic view of kids' conduct in restaurants can be found in a new paperback release of "Eating Out" by Helen Oxenbury (a Puffin Pied Piper, $3.99, 24 pages, ages 3-6).

Mommy and Daddy are too tired to cook, so they decide to go out for dinner. Their son, who's about 2 1/2 , is the narrator. We see him dismembering centerpieces and impaling bread on a knife, harassing neighboring diners with his silverware and making faces at his "yummy meal."

No one captures a toddler's mischievousness like Ms. Oxenbury, who gives at least one stuffy grown-up her just desserts in this slim treat.

* Baltimore artist Susan L. Roth provides a heaping helping of action with her cut-paper collages in "Pass the Fritters, Critters" by Cheryl Chapman (Four Winds Press, $14.95, 32 pages, ages 3-5).

The antelope won't pass the cantaloupe, and the puffin refuses to pass the muffin. Problem is, the youngster they're dining with has failed to say the magic word: please.

When it's obvious he's getting nowhere without manners, the young boy changes his tune. Suddenly, he's saying, "Thanks for the cider, Spider." And "After you, Kangaroo."

* "Do Not Feed the Table," by Dee Lillegard, illustrated by KeikNarahashi (Doubleday, $14.95, 24 pages, ages 5-8) is a collection of poems about the wonders of a kitchen.

It opens at breakfast and rolls through the day. There's a toaster - it swallows bread and then hiccups to produce toast -- and a waffle maker ("With chunky teeth he bites the batter . . ."). OK, so maybe the ode to a microwave won't make Keats obsolete:

Four three

two one --

Zap -- zap

Ding! Done.

But kids who haven't yet had the poetry programmed out of them will like these silly verses, and the watercolor illustrations match the light-hearted tone.

* As American as apple pie? Marjorie Priceman dispenses with that notion in "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" (Knopf, $15, 40 pages, ages 4-8).

Ms. Priceman, who illustrated "A. Nonny Mouse Writes Again!" by Jack Prelutsky, takes readers on an around-the-world odyssey to find the ingredients for an apple pie.

First, board a steamship for Europe and head to Italy for some semolina wheat. Then it's on to France for an egg -- "French chickens lay elegant eggs" -- Sri Lanka for cinnamon, England for milk, Jamaica for sugar cane and Vermont for apples.

In addition to a rollicking tour of several continents, Ms. Priceman provides, at the end, a pie recipe.

* Signing sightings: Baltimore author Jerdine Nolan ("Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm") will be appearing from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. tomorrow at Junior Editions in Columbia Mall and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. May 21 at the Waldenbooks at Towsontown Center.

And, award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney will appear with his wife, author Gloria Pinkney, at two locations June 10. The Pinkneys, who collaborated on "Back Home" and its new sequel, "The Sunday Outing," will be at the Children's Bookstore on Deepdene Road in Roland Park from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., and at Junior Editions in Columbia Mall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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