Ancona explores the universal activity of eating, but the accomplished master of the photo essay doesn’t add enough spice to this pot.
Starting with an image of a nursing baby (but excluding a bottle-fed infant), photos of children and adults from different cultures are enclosed in circles and rectangles on white backgrounds. The clear photos highlight meal times, utensils, types of food and special celebrations, such as Hanukkah with its potato pancakes and St. Lucia’s Day with its saffron buns. Some double-page spreads feature large photos of people enjoying a meal with a corresponding detail of the foods. The most attractive one shows Nigerians dipping fufu, ground cassava root, into various meats and vegetables. Mealtime prayer is shown in photos of an interracial family saying grace and a Tibetan family praying before digging into their meat dumplings, momos. A Muslim gathering and a Polynesian luau depict examples of sharing and hospitality. The simple, straightforward text largely describes the photos, but there is no mention of how people get their food or the difficulty of getting enough to eat for some children and families. A few recipes would complement the attractive end papers with their checkerboard of food images.
A solid repast for the primary-school curriculum but not zesty enough for many tastes. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)