America’s Test Kitchen presents 26 facts about food and cookery for aspiring chefs.
Designed as a multileveled text intended to grow with its reader and laid out one letter per page, the book first presents a statement in a large typeface: “K is for Kumquats.” A short explanation that “Kumquats are tiny citrus fruits” follows in smaller type, and this is succeeded by a long, expository paragraph in even tinier print. Combined, it makes an overwhelmingly print-heavy page. Writing for young foodies is a tasty concept, but the book’s ingredients don’t quite meld. There are pages among the esoteric mix of food and cooking techniques detailing familiar items such as “oven” or “vanilla,” but too many cover topics far too sophisticated for the audience. Few toddlers will grasp that “Umami” enhances taste or that lox “is cured but not smoked.” Older foodies may appreciate the material but not the board-book format, and all readers may find the clinical tone, like an unbrined turkey, to be a little dry. Digitally collaged illustrations gamely make the subject as much fun as possible, with lively faces plastered on food and utensils and vibrant colors to make the tasty morsels pop. Dashes of wit spice things up, such as a peppermint leaf soaking in a hot mug of water, spa candles and fuzzy slippers at the ready. A simultaneously publishing companion, 123 the Farm and Me, shares both approach and flaws.
This well-intentioned but overambitious book has too many ingredients to create a delectable whole. (Board book. 1-4)