Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

From Goodreads:
In 1710, a girl and her mother in Lyme, England, prepare a blackberry fool, picking wild blackberries and beating cream from their cow with a bundle of twigs. The same dessert is prepared by a slave girl and her mother in 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina; by a mother and daughter in 1910 in Boston; and finally by a boy and his father in present-day San Diego. 

A Fine Dessert, written by prolific children's book author Emily Jenkins, is told from an interesting perspective. Instead of a character, it is told from the perspective of an age-old dessert: blackberry fool. And what the reader is likely to notice as they progress through the story is that as life changes and society changes, the dessert stays the same.

Kids will notice obvious societal changes throughout the story such as the evolution of kitchen utensils, going from a wooden whisk, metal rotary beaters, and finally an electric mixer. But there are also subtle changes in the narrative that might be less obvious to kids, such as how the roles of women and men in the home have changed. There is also a greater emphasis on equality and diversity by the end of the story as one notices that the interaction between people of different backgrounds and races is vastly different. This type of progress might be obvious to adults, but to kids it is likely less so, which would make it a great book for discussion in an intermediate classroom. But what I most love about A Fine Dessert is that it is another reminder to us all that food, like family, is steeped in story.

Sophie Blackall's illustrations are soothing and pleasing to the eye and while visually the emphasis is not on the dessert per se, but more on the people, the book is still likely to make you want to run to the store to gather ingredients for blackberry fool. Luckily, the book includes the recipe at the end, and it is simple enough that it would be perfect to make with your kids.

A Fine Dessert:  Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Published: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade
Pages: 44
Genre/Format: Picture Book/Historical Fiction
Disclosure: Library Copy

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  1. Oh I love this concept! There's something so wonderful about using family recipes and it looks like it is explained so well in this book. I'll definitely have to get this book. I like that it has the recipe in the back so my son and I can make it after we read the book.

  2. Sounds like a good book to read aloud, because it may not be one that kids would gravitate to on their own? I don't care for blackberries, only raspberries, but I imagine you could substitute other berries for the blackberries in the recipe, too.

  3. I love this book and featured it at Alphabet Soup a few weeks ago. Even made the blackberry fool, which was yummy.

  4. I love this. Food history and people history all wrapped up in one book - with a recipe. And that blackberry fool sounds delicious.

  5. Just lovely. Will have to get this one out from the library! Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  6. This sounds so sweet. I love blackberry fool and love the idea of a recipe connecting us through the ages.

  7. Sounds like a fabulous book to share in the classroom,

    Happy cooking and booking,
    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out