I was a lucky little kid. I had parents who read to me and bought me lots of books. Early on, they introduced me to the wonders of the public library and taught me to read, which cracked open the whole world's opportunities.
As an adult I still carry around a whole heap of warm, fuzzy nostalgia for the stories of Rudyard Kipling and Theodor Geisel, the weird poetry of Edward Lear and Shel Silverstein.
Not surprisingly, most of the works that resonated strongly were the ones that featured food.
I vividly remembered poor Ellen Tebbits, yanking up an enormous beet from the mud for her classroom show & tell. I fully empathized with Winnie the Pooh's honey obsession and puzzled for years over Eeyore's ascetic thistle diet.
Recently I ran across the Pennsylvania Department of Education's very thorough list of children's books about food and was pleasantly reminded of the wealth of beautiful illustrations and luscious stories still wrapped up within the folds of my brain.
Therefore, in no particular order, I share:
My Top 10 Tasty Tales from the Rosy Days of Childhood
1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
A town that rains food! Best. Place. Ever. (Or maybe not?)
2. James and the Giant Peach
Roald Dahl's descriptions of fresh peach are so mouthwatering. Take my advice and don't read this book unless it's peach season. (Now is a good time.)
3. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Dahl again. Amazing. Creepy. Tantalizing. All at the same time.
4. In the Night Kitchen
The mind of Maurice Sendak is such a treasure. As a youngster, I remember this book being a bit scandalous for its full-frontal nudity... as if depicting a joyful nude was something base. Silly puritans.
5. Green Eggs & Ham
Who doesn't love Green Eggs & Ham? I don't want to meet that person. I remember back in the day when Jesse Jackson read it on Saturday Night Live. Hi-larious.
6. The Tawny Scrawny Lion
A skinny lion that's never full. A rich, delicious stew. A lovely little book.
7. The Poky Little Puppy
Poky. Clumsy. And absolutely greedy for dessert. That's my kind of puppy.
8. The Little Red Hen
She's a go-getter, that little red hen, and she really promotes the whole "dining at the source" concept years before it was cool.
It's a classic tale that's been told many times, but this is the tasty version I remember.
10. The Giant Jam Sandwich
Peril! Terrified villagers! If only all such problems could be solved with a giant jam sandwich.
Have a treasured food story from your childhood bookshelf? Do share!