Cooking with Bear by Deborah Hodge

If you were following me back in December, you may remember that my list of winter and snow books included a book called Bear’s Winter Party written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Lisa Cinar. It was a delightfully written and illustrated winter story, and I’m thrilled to tell all of you all that Hodge and Cinar have a sequel releasing next week (April 2, 2019 to be exact)! In Cooking with Bear: A Story and Recipes from the Forest, Bear is back, and once again, he’s trying to celebrate and share with his friends.

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One of my favorite things about this series is how kind Bear is. In Bear’s Winter Party, we watch Bear go to great lengths to try to get to a friend’s house when he believes the friend to be in trouble, and through his friends he sees along the way, we gain an understanding of what a thoughtful, giving friend he is. His character is still a worthy role model in Cooking with Bear, when we see Bear wake from his winter hibernation to notice that spring is late. He then starts to worry about if his friends are warm enough and if they have enough to eat. So, he starts to cook…

But what’s really neat about this book is how Hodge emphasizes (very subtly, I might add) eating seasonal, local, and healthful food. Bear begins the story by using what he had to make a watercress soup (for which Hodge gives us the recipe, and which Bear shares with Fox). Bear and Fox then go to search for more ingredients in the forest while they check on their friends. Each friend contributes something fresh and seasonal that Bear then uses in a recipe he shares with friends. Children learn how they can use nuts to make nut burgers, cranberries in granola, and herbs in a salad, among others, and readers find these recipes embedded in the story. The story concludes with Bear deciding to make a recipe book to give to Fox– and the second half of the book is this recipe book! All in all, Hodge (and Bear) provides readers with 15 new, tasty recipes to try.

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Hodge includes both an “Author’s Acknowledgments” and “Author’s Note.” Upon reading these, I learned that her recipes have indeed been tested and proven. She also uses the Note to talk a little to her readers about eating seasonally and locally, safely gathering their own foods, and always cooking with an adult.

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Just as in Bear’s Winter PartyI really love this style of illustration! Cinar’s mostly watercolor illustrations are brightly colored and slightly free-form, very eye-catching to readers young and old. Her animals are drawn with large, kind eyes and smiles on their faces. And, Cinar even makes her illustrations of the food appealing!

Of course, after reading this book, my 3.5-year-old just had to try out one of the recipes herself! It was a touch choice between Bear’s blueberry muffins and his chocolate chip hazelnut cookies, but the cookies won out… Check out my youngest dutifully keeping track of the ingredient list at the grocery store and mixing up the batter with intense concentration! (And, in case you were wondering, the cookies were indeed delicious!).

If you liked this, check out:

Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book, by Lotta Nieminen (You can read my full review here). You might also consider the other books in the Cook in a Book series (Cookies, Pizza, and Pancakes are all available), though we’ve only read Tacos!

Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson (other books in this series include Salad People and More Real Recipes and Honest Pretzels and 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook, but we haven’t read those either)

Bear’s Winter Party, by Hodge and Cinar

Do you like to cook with your kids? What are your favorite books that encourage your children to be involved in the kitchen?

 

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