Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Fabulous Fannie Farmer: Kitchen Scientist and America's Cook Emma Bland Smith

The Fabulous Fannie Farmer: Kitchen Scientist and America's Cook
Emma Bland Smith; Pictures by Susan Reagan
Calkins Creek, an Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2024

In the 1800's, when Fannie was little, she learned to cook from her mother with recipes that were passed down generation to generation. Directions were not like now. Instead, they were pretty vague. "If Fannie had asked, "How much salt should I put in this soup? her mother might have answered, "Oh, a goodly amount." 

Though she loved to good, and she was quite good at it, her dream was to attend college and become a teacher. Unfortunately, at age sixteen, Fannie contracted polio. She lost the use of her legs and had to lay in bed for several years. Unable to fulfill her dreams, as a way to keep busy Fannie took up cooking. "Her passion for cooking and baking rose up like a severn-layer cake."

This picture book biography follows Fannie as she attends the Boston Cooking School and, eventually, becomes a teacher and the head of the school. Her scientific mind had her realizing that using precise measurements instead of the vague directions she grew up with, were absolutely necessary to insure a recipe would come out the same each time you made it. 

Fannie didn't stop with the publishing of her cookbook. She started her own cooking school, lectured all over the country, and taught at Harvard Medical School. 

Paired with the engaging narrative are Reagan's very colorful, historically accurate illustrations that combines traditional watercolor with digital drawing. Peppered throughout the book are quotes by Fannie set off in a larger font. 

A great read aloud to all ages (I really believe middle and high school students can benefit from reading picture books), share with anyone who has an interest in cooking. 

Backmatter includes how to research nonfiction, Fannie's influence on today's cooks, (think Julia Child), a timeline, resources for more information, and a bibliography.

You'll want to be sure you have something yummy to snack on while reading. 

Click here to watch an interview with Emma Bland Smith.

No comments:

Post a Comment