Plot Summary: This is a cookbook designed for teens. The book contains recipes and cooking and kitchen safety tips to help teens become better cooks. The recipes are healthy and fun and range from basics like grilled cheese sandwiches to more complicated dishes like glazed pork tenderloin.
Critical Evaluation: The book begins with an introduction encouraging teens to learn how to cook with quality ingredients and become more active in their families shopping. This really sets the encouraging tone that is found throughout the book. The book also contains safety information, a kitchen essentials list, a conversion chart, and a list of kitchen equipment that has the same informative and encouraging tone. The actual recipes themselves are healthy options but not overly so in a way that might scare off picky eaters. The book also features a good balance between more classic comfort foods and more exotic or adventurous foods. Most teens should be able to find a least a few recipes in this cookbook they would like to try. The one issue with this would be teens with various dietary restrictions may have some difficulties finding recipes they can use. The book does not discuss the ability to swap out ingredients to fit different dietary needs. There is a good variety of recipes organized into sections with celebrity inspired names designed to be fun for teens like the section of salads titled “Star-Studded Salads and Dressings” or the side dishes called “Side Shows”. I think some teens may find this a little cheesy but others will be amused. The recipes also have a unique format listing the ingredients first as is traditional then dividing the steps into three sections titled “On your mark…”, “Get set…”, and “Cook!” for recipes that don’t involve cooking this last step will be changed to the appropriate action such as toss for salads or assemble for the sandwich section. Once again this may come off as a bit cheesy but it is a clever way to divide the steps between the prep work and the final steps. This could be particularly helpful for teens who are just learning to cook. Overall the cookbook comes across as more geared toward beginners but there are some more complicated recipes for teens that are already comfortable in the kitchen.
Reader’s Annotation: Teens who are interested in learning how to cook or looking for new recipes will enjoy this collection of tasty recipes, there is a great variety so there is something for everyone.
Author Information: Matthew Locricchio has worked in the food industry most of his life. He has worked in famous restaurants and has experience giving cooking classes and demonstrations at culinary schools across the nation.
Genre: Cook Book
Curriculum Ties: This could be used if the local school has a cooking or life skills class.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Which recipes sound the most appealing to you? Did you actually try making anything from the book and how did that turn out?
2) Ask readers to bring in their own family recipes and compare them to what is in the book. Which recipes sound tastier or healthier?
Reading Level & Interest Level: The age range is listed as 13-14 but I can see older teens being interested in this book as well especially older teens who would like to learn to cook before they go off to college.
Challenge Issues: I don’t know why someone would challenge a cook book. This book specifically is a good choice as it has healthy recipes and includes safety tips.
Why is it included?: I noticed this while looking for a different non fiction title and thought it would be an interesting choice to include in book list, it hadn’t previously occurred to me to include a cookbook in a readers advisory list. I think that cookbooks can be a valuable resource though and would make an interesting addition to book lists or book displays about getting ready to go to college.