Title: The Boy Who Wanted to Cook
Author: Gloria Whelan
Major Themes: Cooking, Food, France
Synopsis: When an inspector comes to his family’s restaurant, Pierre helps with the meal and saves the day.
The Boy Who Wanted to Cook is a very cute picture book. I hadn’t noticed who the author was until I looked when I got started writing this review, but I’ve enjoyed all of Gloria Whelan’s books that I’ve read. The pictures are wonderful!
Pierre’s parents have a small restaurant in a French village. Pierre loves to cook, but his parents think he is too young. They send him out to play. He sees meals everywhere he looks, though—snails in the vineyard, goat cheese bouncing around on the rocks…. And then, he meets a stranger who asks for directions to his family’s restaurant and realizes this is the inspector! He keeps this fact a secret, as he should, but does all he can to help make the perfect meal.
As I said, the pictures are wonderful. I also love the descriptions of food. From what I’ve heard about France, food is all-important, and this book makes that fact come alive. Everything must be perfect—even though the family does not know that their guest is an inspector! There are also a lot of French words sprinkled through the book, which is a lovely introduction to the language. I was glad for the pronunciation guide and meanings in the back.
The one thing we did not appreciate about the story, however, was that Pierre disobeyed his father. Papa said they would not put mushrooms in the beef dish, because that would go against tradition. When his back was turned, Pierre threw the mushrooms in anyway. The guest loved the dish with mushrooms in it, and Papa decided that Pierre was old enough to cook now—but is that the message we want to give our children? That disobedience is all right if everything turns out well?
WARNING: As I said in the last paragraph.
Read Aloud—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12