20 Recipes Kids Should Know

Recipes and text by Esme Washburn

Photographs by Calista Washburn

Prestel Publishing, New York, 2019

We’re foodies in my family, so my kids were always interested in cooking. However, although they would ask for help when stuck, mostly they wanted to pursue their own cooking endeavors rather than learn from their parents. I wish this book had been around when they were young! Unfortunately, when my kids were ready to begin their cooking journey, the author of this book, Calista Washburn, hadn’t been born yet! She wrote this book when she was twelve.

I can’t say enough good about this book. The recipes are for healthy foods cooked from scratch. They range from the very simple grilled cheese and pancakes to the more complicated yeast bread and homemade pasta. The steps in each recipe are straightforward and clear, and the pasta recipe includes step-by-step pictures to go with the directions. Anyone who works their way through this cookbook will have a repertoire of recipes that will stand them in good stead to feed themselves and company as well.

The recipes feature common ingredients with substitutions noted for anything that’s a little more unusual. The bread recipe includes two alternatives, one for using a stand mixer and another for letting the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator, so that schedules and equipment won’t limit cooks in accomplishing their task. The introduction includes general information for the novice cook from measurement substitutions to a glossary of cooking techniques.

The pictures in this book are likely to make you hungry, they’re beautifully styled and put together in a way that gives you a great sense of the goal for each recipe. That’s quite an accomplishment for a teen photographer, Calista Washburn, Esme’s older sister.

All-in-all I would recommend this book as one of your first summer purchases. What a great way to learn to cook!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Brightwood by Tania Unsworth

brightwoodAlgonquin Young Readers, 2016.

Daisy Fitzjohn and her mother have everything they need in the mansion that is their home. In fact, Daisy has never been outside the grounds, not even to accompany her mother on her weekly shopping trips. But one Monday morning Daisy wakes to hear her mother leaving in the car, which is puzzling. Wednesday is shopping day, so where could her mother possibly be going? When Daisy’s mother fails to return and when a long lost cousin arrives hoping to develop the property, Daisy will have to use her considerable wit, her intimate knowledge of the house and property, and the help of her friends (a rat, a topiary, a statue, and a ghostly explorer named Frank) to save herself and her home.

Brightwood is a fun and adventurous tale with an admirable, clever, and strong main character and a villain to be reviled. A fun, adventurous read suitable for home, classroom, and library collections.

I received an advance reader copy of Brightwood from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

When twins Josh and JB are nearly thirteen they rule their school’s basketball court. They are the best of friends and caught up in the game. After school and on weekends they practice with their dad, an ex-pro ball player. Dad regales them with stories of his past and lives by his ten basketball rules.

Basketball Rule #1

In this game of life
family is the court
and the ball is your heart.
No matter how good you are,
no matter how down you get,
always leave
your heart
on the court.

Josh will need all ten of his dad’s rules to navigate this challenging year because high school is looming and suddenly the people he depends on — and sometimes takes for granted —  are changing.

This novel in verse rings with the joy and energy of competition. It hums with the love of a close-knit family and boils and sobs with the pot of emotions as life bubbles on and over and through the characters. The story is beautifully told and will appeal to basketball lovers and word nerds alike, especially those who, like Josh, find themselves unexpectedly in a world where relationships are changing and emotions and hormones blaze uncontrollably.

Read The Crossover expecting to be drawn in: drawn in to the language Josh delights in, drawn in to the play-by-play of his games, drawn in to the love and frustrations of a family, drawn in to the anger that comes when life suddenly changes and you do not understand nor have the skills to manage it.



Flashback Friday: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 My father brought these books home for me one by one beginning when I was five years old. He worked on Madison Avenue at the time, and I remember the thrill on the evenings he walked through the door with a white F. A. O. Schwarz bag in hand with a tell-tale yellow cover showing through. The whole series had the yellow covers with appealing illustrations from Garth Williams. My mother read the whole series to me then, and I reread them several times on my own. They still hold pride-of-place on my bookshelf. I read them again a number of years ago and was amazed at what a different story they tell to an adult and a mother.

I was seven and held the books as a firm favorite when the series was televised. I already wore my hair in two braids and had a distinct overbite –larger than but not completely unlike Melissa Gilbert’s. For a few years often I heard that I looked just like Laura on Little House on the Prairie. It was a popular show and I considered it a great complement. It was enough to make up for the liberties the show took with the story and only made me love the books more.