Tag Archives: infographics

Mommy and Me Start Cooking

20 Jan

Today’s book review is for Mommy and Me Start Cooking from Dorling Kindersley. I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

Mommy and Me Start Cooking book cover

Mommy and Me Start Cooking is a wonderful first cookbook for school aged children. In addition to introducing children to basic cooking techniques, it also includes detailed information on a number of ingredients. The bold design and use of infographics make for a book that is sure to engage children and get them excited about being in the kitchen.

The first thing that I noticed about this book was the great design. It’s quite visually appealing. Text is presented in fun, kid-friendly fonts that are still easy to read. Illustrations combine elements from photography, clipart and traditional illustration to create a lively visual environment. Most of all, though, I was drawn to the infographics. Infographics such as charts and diagrams make it easier for kids to process new information. Instructions are provided in text, with accompanying photos so children can understand the actions described. There are even warning triangles to indicate steps that should be done either by an adult, or under adult supervision. I was really impressed by how thoughtful the designers were in putting the book together.

The recipes cover all three meals of the day, as well as snacks and desserts. I appreciated the range provided. As a vegetarian, I also appreciated that efforts were made to suggest alternatives to meat in some of the recipes. I was most intrigued by the recipes for star cookies, blueberry sponge, and pea houmous. The star cookies incorporate ginger and orange zest to make them special. Using peas to make houmous was a novel and appealing idea. My only real complaint about the recipes is that I wish they incorporated more vegetables. Getting children to eat vegetables can be a challenge for some parents–but I think if they were encouraged to help in their preparation it might help.

This cookbook offers ample opportunities for teaching moments. There are asides about various ingredients that explain where they come from, how they are harvested, etc. Measuring ingredients for the recipes helps kids develop math skills. For an extra challenge, you could figure out how to double a recipe to serve more people. After observing how ingredients combine and transform, children could read about different aspects of food chemistry. A child interested in geography could research where various crops originated. Or you can simply enjoy learning the basic life skills of food preparation, and enjoy consuming the fruits of your labor.

Mommy and Me Start Cooking is sure to engage children and teach them to appreciate home-cooked food. With great design, fun variety, and age-appropriate content, this book earns 4 stars. And the recipes are simple enough that even parents who lack culinary savvy should be able to execute the recipes with their kids.

You can find more information about this book on Goodreads.

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It’s a Feudal, Feudal World

20 Nov

Today’s book review is for It’s a Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History, written by Stephen Shapiro, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, published by Annick Press. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

It's a Feudal, Feudal World book cover

It’s a Feudal, Feudal World is an innovative book that explores medieval history through infographics, cartoons, and lively text. It covers a wide range of topics, from life expectancy to siege methods. Throughout it makes a point to emphasize the contributions of both women and men, and to highlight the intercultural influences on the period. As a bit of a medievalist myself, I was thrilled to see how much detail was fit into such a short volume.

Shapiro clearly knows his material. Each page is filled with information to stimulate and engage young minds. It’s hard to find history dull, as presented by the author. That’s because all of the information is accompanied by jokes and bits of humor. The reason he’s able to include so much information is because rather than get bogged down in explanations of everything, he opts to use infographics to convey important data and ideas. After all, why read a description of a Viking longship when you can look at a diagram instead?

There’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’d say that in this case, it’s absolutely true. Kinnaird’s illustrations give life to this history. His cartoons grabbed me from the beginning and made me want to keep reading. They also helped me to understand concepts, such as how mills could be powered by various sources. And I loved the image of the librarian chained to his books–maybe because I could relate a little.

The book also contains a glossary, selected bibliography, and index to enhance the ways students are able to engage with the book. It has a great design and format.

I think this would make a great addition to a classroom or library that serves grades 4-7. It’s the sort of book that I wish had been around when I was growing up. It looks deceptively simple–it’s mostly pictures, and many of those are cartoons. However, anyone who reads it is sure to come away knowing far more than when they began. I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s always nice when a book is able to successfully combine education and entertainment.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.