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  • Writer's pictureSharon Fujimoto-Johnson

Food & Gratitude: Three Picture Books

This Thanksgiving season, I’m thinking about food and how it connects people. In my family, food is a fusion of Japanese and Western recipes with a generous dose of substitutions for those with multiple food allergies.

As for me, my relationship with food has changed drastically as a result of cancer treatment. At Thanksgiving last year, I had a PICC line inserted in my arm in order to administer TPN (liquid nutrition) as my body became unable to process food. For four months, a pump dripped life-saving liquid into my body, and I sipped on liquids while watching food shows and reading cook books.

A year later, I am so grateful to be eating again, even though it’s a daily rotation of mostly soft, easily-digestible food. To be able to eat is a gift. To make food, even if you can’t eat it yourself, is a love language and an art.

Platters, bowls, and cakes I've made for my family.

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Perhaps all of this is why I keep coming back to these three beautiful picture books about food:

What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street? By Felicita Sala

“Something smells good at N. 10 Garden Street. Delicious actually!” is how this book opens. Each delicious spread of this book features a richly-illustrated kitchen scene, a recipe, and an illustrated ingredient list.

In a sweet surprise at the end of this book, the diverse characters from all the kitchens converge around a community table for a potluck at which “everybody’s welcome.”

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal

The lyrical metaphor of fry bread creates a refrain that leads the reader through a discovery of fry bread. It is food, shape, and sound, art, history, place, and nation and so much more. The reader encounters important ideas about the First Nations and colonization, and these are reinforced by a recipe, several pages of back matter, and a list of resources. I love the list of Tribe names on the end pages. This is an important book that I will read to my kids again and again.

Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey and Genevieve Godbout

This beautiful book of few words is a simple and lovely list of gratitude for all that contribute to apple cake, including rain, sun, the work of farmers, cows and hens. The soft pastel and colored pencil illustrations evoke warmth and community, all infused into a slice of apple cake. There’s a recipe at the end of this book too.

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

I’m so thankful for all the love, thought, and work that went into these three delicious books. It is an honor to have these on my bookshelf, and perhaps someday, my own food-themed picture book will join them.


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